It’s been an interesting few weeks for my dad, Van VanDeWalker. To the scores of residents that encouraged my dad and stood by him, please know how very grateful we all are. Your outpouring of support and dedication to the welfare of Macon’s animals is amazing.
Although he was not selected as director of Animal Welfare, my dad will continue to work on behalf of the animals in Macon. That will never change. That’s just who he is.
I, for one, am very grateful that’s how my dad is. After all, if it weren’t for his concern for animals, especially the downtrodden ones, I wouldn’t even be here. When I was almost frozen as a baby and the doctor said I probably wouldn’t live, my dad brought me home so I wouldn’t die alone.
He never gave up on me and literally loved me back to life. He gave me hope and a reason to live. And then he helped me find my purpose in life.
But I’m just one of many, many animals that benefitted from my dad’s compassion. The list of people’s lives that have been touched by my dad and the list of animals that were saved because of my dad are enormous.
One of the most incredible things he was able to do when we worked at Macon Animal Control was to get the public involved. We had a ton of volunteers donating supplies, walking dogs and loving on cats. We had so many school groups and Scout troops touring and working on projects that we had to set up special schedules to get them all in.
And there were rescue groups galore! My dad developed relationships with rescue groups from all over Georgia to come save animals out of our pound. The rescue groups were instrumental in the success of the nation’s first Pardon Week my dad implemented at the pound.
The lieutenant governor of Georgia gave my dad a commendation for his exemplary work at Macon Animal Control. To my knowledge, no one in the history of the Macon Animal Control had ever been recognized this way before, nor have they since.
And my dad is too humble to let anyone know that’s not his first major recognition. You see, he’s a veteran who served in the Air Force. While there, he received an award for meritorious scholastic achievement for being the honor graduate of his class, and he later received commendation for his management skills and leadership ability by not only the chief of the Facilities Branch but also the Colonel USAF Commander.
My dad is a conscientious man of many talents, tremendous compassion and exceptional ability. But I think one of his greatest qualities is his gift of being able to unite people in a cause greater than themselves to achieve more than they believed they ever could.
That’s exactly what he did with me.
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