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Belle the cat not checked out from Library

Belle the cat will continue to be a familiar face at the Charles and Ona B. Free Library in Dublin.
Belle has kept residency at the library for the past three years, after being adopted from the Pulaski County Humane Society.
The question of whether Belle’s presence at the library was a liability arose after at least two verbal complaints about her were reported to the board earlier this year.
The board had intended to vote on this issue at their meeting in April, but tabled it upon the request of a board member who wished to research the issue further.
Over the month between the April and May meetings, animal lovers within the community stepped into action, creating ways to persuade members of the board to vote in favor of keeping Belle at the library.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, board chairman John Freeman shared a stack of letters, articles and petitions which had been forwarded to him from citizens concerned about Belle.
Two of those petitions were given to the board by the Pulaski County Humane Society.
PCHS president Bill Bryant said one of the petitions included signatures from Pulaski County residents, while the other was signed by "cat lovers worldwide," as they had had such a large response from cat fans living outside of Pulaski County.
Before members of the board cast their votes, they had the opportunity to make comments about the issue.
Board member Mason Vaughan, Jr. said he had received one phone call against keeping Belle at the library, and that the person said they had had to take their child to the emergency room because of a situation with Belle.
Vaughan also commented on concerns expressed by patrons about Belle being in the library’s water fountain.
Dublin library staff member Courtney Price responded that as a staff, they try their best to keep Belle out of the fountain and clean it if she manages to get in it.
She also commented that they have actually had several patrons propose the possibility of taking the water fountain out, and that they would rather have Belle at the library than the water fountain.
Board member Elinor Farmer said she had received a phone call from a parent whose child is severely allergic to cats. She said the parent told her that she has to give her child allergy medication before they visit the library.
Farmer asked why the parent didn’t make a complaint to the library staff, and the parent said they don’t complain because they don’t want their child to be harassed because of it.
Freeman asked Price if Belle is put away in a separate area of the library at the request of patrons with allergies.
She responded that patrons are highly encouraged to let the staff know if they have allergies, and that they would definitely put Belle in a separate room without question.
Board member Martha Jackson said she had done some research through the Virginia Library Association, and found that there are only seven cats in libraries in the entire state, and that there had been six others who had ultimately passed away, but had never been replaced. In addition, she said there are only 235 cats in libraries in the U.S., and that many of them are not even real cats, as some of them are stuffed or statues.
"I think we’ve romanticized the idea of cats in libraries," she said, adding that it appears to not be a universal trend.
Board member Joe Slaughter said that he is a lover of animals, but "an animal is an animal" and that there is always the possibility of an attack.
Board member Nancy Hudson said she had done some research on attacks involving cats, and that she had found a law suit involving a cat in a library in California.
"I don’t think Pulaski County can take that chance," she said. "Animals are unpredictable."
Board member Dr. Don Stowers made the motion to keep Belle at the library, but suggested that the board establish guidelines to better care for the cat and for ways to work with and protect the public.
Stowers’ motion was seconded by board member Marva Hickman.
Ultimately, Stowers, Hickman, Freeman, Farmer and Vaughan voted in favor of keeping Belle at the library.

After the vote, Freeman thanked all the "cat lovers and supporters who worked so hard for this cause."

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Belle the cat not checked out from Library

Belle the cat will continue to be a familiar face at the Charles and Ona B. Free Library in Dublin.
Belle has kept residency at the library for the past three years, after being adopted from the Pulaski County Humane Society.
The question of whether Belle’s presence at the library was a liability arose after at least two verbal complaints about her were reported to the board earlier this year.
The board had intended to vote on this issue at their meeting in April, but tabled it upon the request of a board member who wished to research the issue further.
Over the month between the April and May meetings, animal lovers within the community stepped into action, creating ways to persuade members of the board to vote in favor of keeping Belle at the library.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, board chairman John Freeman shared a stack of letters, articles and petitions which had been forwarded to him from citizens concerned about Belle.
Two of those petitions were given to the board by the Pulaski County Humane Society.
PCHS president Bill Bryant said one of the petitions included signatures from Pulaski County residents, while the other was signed by "cat lovers worldwide," as they had had such a large response from cat fans living outside of Pulaski County.
Before members of the board cast their votes, they had the opportunity to make comments about the issue.
Board member Mason Vaughan, Jr. said he had received one phone call against keeping Belle at the library, and that the person said they had had to take their child to the emergency room because of a situation with Belle.
Vaughan also commented on concerns expressed by patrons about Belle being in the library’s water fountain.
Dublin library staff member Courtney Price responded that as a staff, they try their best to keep Belle out of the fountain and clean it if she manages to get in it.
She also commented that they have actually had several patrons propose the possibility of taking the water fountain out, and that they would rather have Belle at the library than the water fountain.
Board member Elinor Farmer said she had received a phone call from a parent whose child is severely allergic to cats. She said the parent told her that she has to give her child allergy medication before they visit the library.
Farmer asked why the parent didn’t make a complaint to the library staff, and the parent said they don’t complain because they don’t want their child to be harassed because of it.
Freeman asked Price if Belle is put away in a separate area of the library at the request of patrons with allergies.
She responded that patrons are highly encouraged to let the staff know if they have allergies, and that they would definitely put Belle in a separate room without question.
Board member Martha Jackson said she had done some research through the Virginia Library Association, and found that there are only seven cats in libraries in the entire state, and that there had been six others who had ultimately passed away, but had never been replaced. In addition, she said there are only 235 cats in libraries in the U.S., and that many of them are not even real cats, as some of them are stuffed or statues.
"I think we’ve romanticized the idea of cats in libraries," she said, adding that it appears to not be a universal trend.
Board member Joe Slaughter said that he is a lover of animals, but "an animal is an animal" and that there is always the possibility of an attack.
Board member Nancy Hudson said she had done some research on attacks involving cats, and that she had found a law suit involving a cat in a library in California.
"I don’t think Pulaski County can take that chance," she said. "Animals are unpredictable."
Board member Dr. Don Stowers made the motion to keep Belle at the library, but suggested that the board establish guidelines to better care for the cat and for ways to work with and protect the public.
Stowers’ motion was seconded by board member Marva Hickman.
Ultimately, Stowers, Hickman, Freeman, Farmer and Vaughan voted in favor of keeping Belle at the library.

After the vote, Freeman thanked all the "cat lovers and supporters who worked so hard for this cause."

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