Thursday, October 18, 2018

Roosevelt Island Resident Stephen Quandt Is A First Responder For ASPCA's Anti Cruelty Group Field Investigations & Response Team - He Describes Acts Of Kindness And Shared Humanity In Small Wisconsin Town, Homemade Cupcakes Too

Roosevelt Island resident Stephen Quandt has a difficult job and sees much pain and cruelty. But he also sees and recognizes acts of kindness. Mr Quandt reports:

How is Roosevelt Island like northern Wisconsin? Perhaps it sounds like an odd comparison unless like me you have spent time in both places.

I work as a professional first responder for the ASPCA's Field Investigations and Response Team, a division of their Anti-Cruelty Group. The FIR Team responds nationwide to large-scale criminal cruelty cases like blood sports (dogfighting and cockfighting), hoarding cases and puppy mills often involving many hundreds of animals, sometimes thousands. We also respond to disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and fires.

I work in the Medical Dept. which involves doing everything from assisting on forensic exams (the collection of medical evidence on living animals) providing administrative support and giving treatments and medications to sick or injured animals. What I learned late in life and is so hard to explain is the profound experience of relieving suffering in others. For reasons I don't understand this deeply moving experience is not taught or given to our youth but is mysteriously saved for professional programs like medicine, ministry, counseling and the like.

During my first case in Wisconsin three years ago, I was on a crime scene for the first of several cockfighting cases there. We were on “a farm” of sorts for days collecting evidence, triaging and treating chickens. At one point I was in the woods under a pop-up tent in a thunderstorm helping to examine chickens. Our first chicken escaped through a hole in his coop and ran across the road never to be seen again. It was challenging work. One day perhaps to lighten our mood Sergeant Brent of the county Sheriff’s dept. brought us all cupcakes. Homemade cupcakes. Homemade by him he made a point of telling us, and not by a mix, and not by his wife. The cupcakes were all arranged on a tray, and on the icing was spelled THANKS ASPCA!

Photo by Stephen Quandt

This was my first time in Wisconsin and I was thinking “Where am I?”

Very recently I was back in Wisconsin for another cockfighting and dogfighting case involving 1700 chickens and twenty or so dogs. This would be my third trip to Wisconsin in as many years. When I got to the hotel in the small town I was staying in, I asked the hotel manager on duty if I could Uber or Lyft to the nearest grocery store for supplies. He chuckled and said that he was sorry but there was no Uber or Lyft in this town. There wasn't even a taxi company. I was completely mystified. But then he really rocked my world by saying, "If you like, you can borrow my car while I go swimming in the hotel pool after work." I stammered, "Ahhhh how long will you be swimming?" and he replied, "For about an hour." So, while my mind did somersaults I accepted his offer and again thought to myself, “Where am I?"

What I saw in Wisconsin was one farm rolling into another. Corn and soybeans being grown to within one or two feet of the edge of the properties, farmers demanding every possible ounce of produce from the soil. Our nation is fed by states like this. At first I didn't understand why the grocery stores didn't seem to have a lot of produce. Then someone explained to me that everyone grows food. That helped explain the signs by the road that said, "Free tomatoes, take as many as you want." Kindness helped explain it too. And on this trip I happily saw (now) Lieutenant Brent again.

Stephen Quandt (left) and Lieutenant Brent Standaert (right) of the St. Croix County, Wisconsin Sheriff’s department.

His school district's PTA would bring us treats!

What we share on Roosevelt Island with Wisconsin isn’t in the nightly news. It’s in our shared humanity. It’s in our ever-present opportunity to be kind.

After three trips to Wisconsin I was still asking myself the question, "Where am I?" when I finally figured out the answer.

I was in America.
Learn more about the ASPCA's Field Investigations & Response Team at their web site and from this video.

Mr Quandt has previously reported on similarities in Island life between Roosevelt Island and Little Cranberry Maine.