By Pat Chiri
The time has come to say 30, which is the journalism term, for end of story.
And so after 40-plus years as a news reporter, photographer and animal advocate/activist, I am putting my reporter’s pad in the desk drawer.
My love for journalism started back in high school. I took baby steps with small newspapers in Florida and Louisiana. From weeklies I went to small town dailies. But whenever I decided to quit, the printer’s ink in my blood and the adrenaline with the thought of a big scoop sent me running into the thick of another adventure on the news beat.
Now as old age, with its slowing of the body settles in, I told myself it is time to hang it up, and let the family legacy with my son, Kevin and my grandkids continue on into the future with The Slidell Independent and Tammany West.
I brought Kevin into the news game back in the early 70’s. Every so often, his brothers, Tony and Larry got ink on their fingers, but Kevin stayed in with me.
With no formal education in journalism, I learned from the ground up how to be a news reporter and photographer. I just went out and covered the story and asked lots of questions, and observed everything and everyone.
I learned, the longer I stayed in the game, that you had to go out each day and work your beat. You could not sit in the office and expect the stories would come to you.
I covered everything from “accidents, fires, death, government, good people, bad people, sad scenes with children and inhumane deeds to animals”. I would do it all again.
When I was no longer a full-time news reporter, animals took over my life. I could not believe the abuse and cruelty to animals. Yet I was also heartened by the many people who cared about animals, in animal shelters and humane organizations.
I knew where the rest of my life would take me. I soon found myself spending more time at the local animal shelter than I did at home.
I filled my home with animals from the animal shelter and strays from the by-ways. My days and nights were filled with all things animal. Not as much these days, with the company of one cat.
The thing about being a journalist, you can write until the last day of your life. Even though I will no longer be writing Pet Patter, my thoughts will be with my second family at the Slidell Animal Shelter. And since health problems do not allow me a houseful of animals to care for, I will continue to write and do what I can for animals.
I can look back from when I moved to Slidell in 1969, to the many wonderful people I came to know and love being a news reporter and animal advocate.
I’ve had many wild and woolly days and nights covering big stories and small stories. These memories I will always have. I will still welcome hearing from animal lovers in Slidell.
Thanks for all of it.