EDITORIAL: Loving couple, dog heal each other

York Dispatch
Angel, formerly known as Willa, plays in her new East Manchester Township home with her owners Dan Simmons, left, and June Simmons, right, in Mount Wolf, Pa. on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (Dawn J. Sagert - The York Dispatch)

Thumbs up: We can’t say enough about the York County couple who adopted Angel, the white pit bull pup formerly known as Willa, daughter of Bugz, a 1½-year-old white male pit bull badly beaten by his former owner in York City.

Dan and June Simmons of East Manchester Township took home their new Angel three days before Christmas from the York County SPCA. And as much as they will be available to love and support Angel, the pup, in turn, is healing them, too.

You see, 13 years ago, In April 2003, the Simmonses adopted a tan pit bull mix from the York County SPCA and named him Spirit. He was just 5 months old in March 2003 when a young boy found him running stray in York City.

Someone had hacked off his ears in what appeared to have been a do-it-yourself operation. And SPCA Executive Director Melissa Smith theorized in 2003 that someone had intended to use Spirit for illegal dog fighting because such dogs sometimes have their ears closely cropped so other dogs can't bite them.

Despite the violence committed on Spirit, he was gentle, easy to train and wanted to please, Dan Simmons said.

We suggest that while Spirit’s gentle nature has much to do with the wonderful relationship the couple had with him — Spirit died in October 2015 — their loving care was a soothing balm for Spirit’s violent beginnings. And now their relationship with a loving canine family member is again at the center of their lives.

If more people could reach out and help abandoned animals, we bet they’d find the same invaluable, intangible rewards awaiting them.

Thumbs up: On Tuesday, about 100 Muslim Americans marched to the police station in Philadelphia to show support for an officer shot by a man claiming to be carrying out the violent act in solidarity with Islamic State.

The York Dispatch published a letter from Dr. Madeel Abdullah of Newtown Square, who wanted to reiterate that the hateful act in the name of Islam was warped and not representative of the majority of Muslims: “The perpetrator was clearly mentally disturbed with a warped view of Islam. Prophet Muhammad has clearly said, 'Love of one's country of residence is part of faith,'" Abdullah wrote.


We agree that the march on Tuesday is an important symbol. It shows how we can come together to heal differences when people who do not represent an entire group perform heinous acts. Police with violent and racist tendencies don’t represent law enforcement any more than unbalanced gunmen evoking Islam represent the Muslim community.

It behooves us to remember this every day: Small acts of kindness do get less notoriety than violent outbursts.

Big, kind and healing gestures such as the march in Philly help remedy that fact. And they help to put an image of solidarity front and center. It’s the place from which we should begin to heal police/community rifts from both sides of the argument.

Thumbs up: To city residents who are planning another “emergency” Stop the Violence rally in York City. As the mayor, police chief and others said in a press conference earlier this week, it’s going to take the entire community to fix this problem: police and government officials can’t do it on their own.

And it is worth saying that parents of troubled kids have a huge challenge on their hands. It’s not easy to turn a child around — or to always provide the right balance of freedom and support. But it is up to parents who know their children are heading down the wrong path first and foremost to reach out and connect with support services and those seeking peace in York City. Be there for your children and do the tough parenting required to produce good, decent adults.

It’s also up to those who have information about the shootings to tell the truth about what they know. Community and police relationships must heal at the grass-roots level, too.