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Laguna Beach Animal Officer Picks Up Where a Disposable Society Leaves Off

November 23, 1987|Herbert J. Vida

The way Joy Lingenfelter describes it, her job is a simple assignment: "I basically pick up and impound sick, injured or stray animals."

But what about having to pull a 500-pound dead blue shark out of the Laguna High School swimming pool where practical jokers had dumped it?

Or hummingbirds that get stuck in skylights? Or a skunk that got his head stuck in a water pipe?

"For me the unusual is usual, and they hardly hit me on the blind side anymore," said Lingenfelter, 29, a Laguna Beach animal control officer and one-time show and competitive horse trainer. "But a lot of it is grim."

And that includes "a society that feels everything is disposable, even marriages and relationships," she said. "And that includes pets who can be disposed of because they're not practical anymore."

Part of that problem, she said, revolves around today's fast-paced life. "People are so concerned about their jobs, getting ahead and staying physically fit that somehow animals get lost in the shuffle," she said.

Lingenfelter feels pets are seen as something secondary, "sort of like a chair. Both are very disposable. Often people don't think of having an animal as a 15-year commitment."

But there's another side, she said. Volunteers at the pound are conscientious about the needs of pets, Lingenfelter said, adding that "many of them take home animals to show them love."

She said it is a myth that animals don't bond with owners except from puppyhood. "If treated well, most animals will make that bond, and they don't care whether you have perfect features, are overweight or are bald. They love you for the love."

She noted that like people who have been through hard times, "a (second owner) animal will latch on to you even more."

"Some take sick birds home and nurse them," she added. "They get a really neat feeling when they let them go."

All animals need love, including skunks that sometimes wander in the city, she said.

"We had one eating from garbage cans and got such an enormous round waist he got stuck in a pipe. So I held a little chloroform under his nose to get him dopey so we could free him," she said.

When they freed the skunk and it started to scamper, about 15 construction workers who were watching "cleared (the place) like a pool table," she said. "I don't know why. Skunks are very amiable animals."

Valencia High School students Helen Chen and Veronica Kenney wrote a sizzling public service announcement that won them first place and $250, which they shared, in the Orange County Alcohol Advisory Board's "Drive Alive '87 " contest.

This is their telling message:

The party started at 8.

Chris and Tracy were drunk by 10. The party ended at 12.

The car left at 12:30. Chris drove.

They crashed at 1.

Tracy died at 1:30.

The ambulance came too late for Tracy.

Don't let the ambulance come for you.

Fred A. Shragai, 63, of Dana Point once made artificial limbs and more recently has been a real estate developer. He has also been a full-time Santa Claus for the last six years.

"I get satisfaction of unbelievable proportions," said Shragai, who has a white beard and hair, just like the guy from the North Pole. "When I walk down the street, children ask me if I'm Santa Claus."

He also has an answer for kids when they meet him during summer. "When they ask me what I'm doing here when Christmas is so far away," he said, "I tell them I have branch offices in Dana Point, London and Budapest (his home city), and I'm here on a scouting mission."

He also has a year-round Santa address in case anyone wants to write. It's Santa Claus, P.O. Box 1708, San Juan Capistrano, Calif. 92693.

"I answer every letter myself," he ho-ho'd.

They call them TES which stands for The Exercise Supportop. Actually, they're brassieres for full-figured women, and TES was the only one of 33 sport bras to get an "Excellent" rating from Women's Sports and Fitness magazine.

An earlier performance study by Utah State University rated it No. 1.

"Sometimes it's difficult to get this message out to the more endowed woman," said Vanessa George Goulden, owner of Creative Support Systems of California in Irvine, which makes the TES bra.

"To many women who have large busts and want to exercise," she said, "its painful . . . (both physically and psychologically) if they don't have proper support."

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