They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but we never thought the cliché would apply to us. But leave it to Softies April Doherty and Adam Lippe, the forces behind the Animal Abuse Unit at the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office, to discover that discarded rope can literally save dogs. It’s called the Love Leads Project, which combines our goals of helping animals and teaching kids empathy, and is a collaboration of the public, private and non-profit sectors.
Necessity is the mother of invention and the Love Leads Project is no exception. When Adam spotted a loose dog in 2015, the responding officer was unable to help, because she had no means to secure the dog. Adam grabbed a leash from his own car and he and April soon grasped that their colleagues at the police department had a problem. If officers in Baltimore County don’t use catch poles and don’t have leashes, how can they possibly respond to calls for dogs running-at-large? They investigated the cost of buying rope, but at $8 per leash, the cost was prohibitive. Their hopes were dashed, but not for long, as the ever-resourceful April Doherty had an idea.
April is also a personal trainer who exercises at indoor climbing gyms. She knew that some facilities donated their old rope, but would any provide rope to make slip leashes for police officers? Both the Columbia and Crystal City Earth Treks loved the idea and gave her an enthusiastic “Yes!”
Adam and April set off to work, but when Adam’s son Braun had a service project, a lightbulb went off. Adam and Braun started making leashes in their garage, but progress was slow, because the rope was difficult to cut. When Adam mentioned the project in passing to Adriane Watson of Pet+E.R., she stepped up to the plate and donated a bench and an electrical rope cutter, and she also provided the electrical conduit connectors necessary to fashion the rope at the slip and handle. Productivity soared.
In just over a year, the Love Leads Project has crafted 620 slip leashes and Adam and his kids make a few each weekend. Every precinct in Baltimore County now owns them and Adam and April distribute them at their animal abuse and domestic violence trainings at the Baltimore County Police Academy. The leashes fill a need that many first responders aren’t even aware they have and remind them to respond humanely to stray dogs, who are often more scared than vicious. Adam and April recently sent 30 leashes to the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Department, which made a special request, and donated several to BARCS Animal Shelter, whose volunteers faithfully walk dogs every day.
But that’s not all. The triple-A team plans to expand the program to the Fire Department and veterinarians from Pet+E.R. will soon conduct trainings in basic CPR and chest compression for animals. The leashes are both a reminder that animals are family members in need of protection and a tool for bringing them to safety.
Discarded rope and electrical conduits – humble components of a project where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We think the Love Leads Project has it all and it reaffirms that we can accomplish much more by working together.
We’re honored to have April Doherty and Adam Lippe on the Soft Side team and we hope you’ll follow the Love Leads Project on Facebook. A new website is coming soon.