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Trouble Finds a Home

July 2, 2010 - Joselyn King

In 2006, I had the chance to visit U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va, at his U.S. Capitol office, and one of the things I most remember  was the dog bed near his desk. Byrd's dog Trouble, a Shih Tzu, was said to be a frequent guest at the office.

Following Byrd's death this week, I couldn't help but wonder what would become of Trouble. While West Virginia had lost a senator and proponent, his dog has lost his master.

But reportedly, Trouble is going to live with Byrd's daughter, Mona Fatemi, and her family in Virginia. Hopefully, he will lead a happy dog's life there.

While it's widely known that  Byrd was once a member of the Ku Klux Klan and once opposed civil rightrs reform, few may not realize he was a proponent of animal rights.

The Human Society of the United States has posted a glowing tribute to Byrd on its website, which also points out he was once a butcher. The tribute notes that "it was during the last decade of his career in office that he truly made his mark on animal welfare, his love nourished by his relationships with his dogs and his conscience pricked by cases of cruelty, especially in livestock agriculture. He worked to increase funding for enforcement of all major animal protection laws, to halt the slaughter of American horses, to crack down on animal fighting, and to reform industrialized agriculture."
In 2007, Marshall County native John Corbett and actress Bo Derek approached Byrd in Washington, seeking his help in legislation  to increase enforcement of all major animal protection laws, especially as they pertained to the slaughter of  horses.

The following year, the HSUS presented Byrd with its highest honor, The Joseph Wood Krutch Medal, for his work to improve animal welfare.

In death, Byrd hasn 't forgotten about animals -- or about the plight of the families of miners killed while on the job.

His family requests that, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the Montcoal Mining Disaster Fund, c/o West Virginia Council of Churches, 2207 Washington St. E., Charleston, WV 25311, or the Humane Society of the United States, 2100 L St. NW, Washington, DC 20037.


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