For more than a decade, humane officer Butch Morris has been a protector and advocate for animals in Washington County.
But a diagnosis of throat cancer has sidelined him from his duties since early December, and now friends are rallying to support him.
"He's the best. He cares so much and is so good with the dogs and cats and is just a good person," said Humane Society of the Ohio Valley volunteer Sue Goff, 61, of Wingett Run. "He put his whole life into helping, and he needs some help."
Times file photo
Humane officer Butch Morris carries a snake out of a Marietta home in this 2011 file photo.
Goff and others have organized a Feb. 17 spaghetti dinner benefit to raise money to benefit Morris, who does not have insurance. It's a gesture that Morris said left him "flabbergasted."
"I had more friends than I realized I had," said Morris, 60, who has been the county humane officer for about 12 years. "As long as they keep pulling for me, I'll keep pushing."
Morris' wife, Sharon, said doctors are confident they can eliminate the cancer through a combination of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. But it will take a while for her husband to recover.
If you go
What: Spaghetti dinner to benefit Butch Morris, humane officer.
When: 4 to 7 p.m. Feb. 17.
Where: Spagna's, 301 Gilman St., Marietta.
Cost: $8 for adults and $5 for children under 10, in advance; $10 at the door.
Tickets: Available from Sharon at the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley, the Harmar Tavern, Furs A Flyin' Pet Grooming or by calling 934-2799.
"He's not too happy having to be at home all the time," she said.
That's an understatement.
"I think it's killing me worse than the throat cancer," Butch Morris said. "I'm just not used to sitting in a chair and twiddling my thumbs."
Adding to Morris' concern is the time of year and the bitter cold weather.
"This is a bad time of year for dogs," said Morris, whose' duties include checking on the welfare of animals and removing them if they're being kept in unsafe conditions, as well as picking up strays.
Those concerns don't mean Morris lacks confidence in Misty Carpenter, who worked with him as a humane officer for about three months before he had to go on leave.
"She's great people. Heart's in the right place, cares about the animals," Morris said.
Morris is optimistic that he'll be able to return to his job eventually, at least on a part-time basis to start.
Humane society manager Steve Herron said that since December he's assisted Carpenter some, as has Washington County Dog Warden Kelly Schubert, who regularly works in concert with the humane officers.
"We're dealing with it the best we can," Herron said.
The benefit is an effort by volunteers and Humane Society personnel "to do whatever we can to help (Morris) and his family," Herron said.