Tough times hit family PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by By JAN LARSON Sentinel County Editor   
Monday, 18 January 2010 10:03
One of several cats taken away from Dowling home. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
DOWLING - Julie Lacy couldn't bear to watch her animals being loaded into the Wood County Humane Society vans. She stood in the doorway briefly, wiping tears from her eyes, then retreated back into her home.
Her children said goodbye to their three dogs, six cats, 21 chickens and one beloved billy goat.
"We love these animals. We did our best for them," said Lacy's sister-in-law Colleen Stewart, who shares the Dowling farmhouse with her husband, sister-in-law, and Lacy's three children, ages 10, 13 and 15. "This is very hard for us."
But life has become more complicated for the family recently. Lacy's husband left the family on Christmas Eve, and their house has been declared uninhabitable by the Wood County Health Department because the landlord reportedly will not fix the home's heating system.
"We want the family in a safe living environment," said Jacque Varty, sanitarian with the health department.
The county's safety nets have been extended, with Wood County Department of Job and Family Services offering the family a voucher for one-month's rent. And the humane society picked up the animals Friday and will try to find homes for them.
As workers loaded up the pets in the vans, humane society shelter manager Jamie Fairbanks noted the good condition of all the animals.
"I think they were really loved and really cared for," he said. "Even the chickens, we could handle easily."
A Dowling neighbor tried to ease the pain for Stewart as she fretted about the animals going to the humane society.
"They aren't going to put them down," Daryl Eckel reassured Stewart.
Eckel, who offered to adopt one of the dogs, comforted Stewart that he would give the pet a good home.
Stewart apologized for having to ask for help from neighbors and strangers. She explained she has been working hard to find employment, but jobs are hard to come by right now.
Jamie Fairbanks, shelter manager, with a dog taken from home.
"I know. I understand," Eckel said. "You don't have to feel awful. You're just in a bad spot."
The family members had originally asked if the pets could just be held at the humane society until they are back on their feet.
"It's breaking her heart, to get rid of her cat," Stewart said of her sister-in-law.
But Fairbanks said just holding the animals probably won't work since the family is likely to be moving from home to home for a period.
"Unfortunately, that's not going to be a possibility," he said. A home has already been found for the goat and chickens, since the shelter doesn't have proper accommodations.
Housing will be more difficult to find for the human inhabitants. Lacy and her family have lived in the home for three years, with the children attending Eastwood schools.
"Things just started snowballing and it caught us off guard," Stewart said.
Stewart's husband has a job at a Rossford restaurant, but his hours have been cut. And Stewart, who has experience as a housekeeper, cannot find a job.
"I need a job desperately," she said. "We're doing what we can to survive. It's been very devastating, very hard. This just slapped us all in the face."
Lacy is now trying to find a landlord who will accept the voucher. She would like to keep her children in the Eastwood School District, but knows that may not be possible.
"I'll go wherever I need to," she said.
Her rental home was heated by wood burners, but a problem with the ventilation pipe has gone unrepaired for nearly a year, and has led to the family using a salamander heater.
"It's not the best way to heat a house," Lacy said. "We just make sure we bundle up."
Stewart said her hope is that the family can stay together.
"We need a place really bad. But we're not splitting up. We're staying together," she said.
Stewart said the family would have been lost without the kindness of neighbors like Jackie Eckel, who took the family to town to get groceries and fuel for the heater, and helped with Christmas gifts for the children.
"The community has come together to help us," Stewart said. "I think the good Lord is looking out for us."
Last Updated on Monday, 18 January 2010 11:46

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