Elaine Adair, Dayton Hyde, Susan Rudnicki, Alana Cutland, & Matthew Talbot had in common service to animals
Elaine Adair, cofounder of the Mississippi Spay & Neuter Alliance (MS-SPAN), born Elaine Girton on October 15, 1950 in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, died after a long struggle against cancer on October 14, 2019, one day before what would have been her 69th birthday.
In her first career, Adair earned a masters degree in technical and professional communication from the University of Colorado while helping to staff a suicide hotline, served in the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard, and worked for 15 years after her retirement from military service as a technical representative for the Lockheed Martin Corporation.
Adair for most of her military and civilian aviation career was associated with the Air National Guard 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Hurricane Hunters, based in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Settling in Gulfport, Mississippi, Elaine Adair and her husband Harold Adair, who survives her, in 1999 bought a 100-year-old house (built in 1900) located six blocks from the Gulf of Mexico.
The Adairs spent three years renovating it into the Camille Bed & Breakfast. They named the bed-and-breakfast after Hurricane Camille, the 1969 storm that was the most destructive of the many that the building had survived.
Also in 1999, Elaine Adair began volunteering for the nearby Humane Society of South Mississippi.
Looking for another project after opening the bed-and-breakfast, the Adairs in 2002 founded the Mississippi Alliance for Spay & Neuter, which in 2005 was rolled into MS SPAN, cofounded by retired Air Force attorney and Tulane University law school instructor Marilyn David.
The initial MS SPAN goal was to extend low-cost spay/neuter service to low-income people and animal rescuers throughout Mississippi, but getting up to speed was delayed by Hurricane Katrina.
Sixty animals drowned in their cages at the Humane Society of South Mississippi. What remained of the 53-year-old shelter building had to be demolished and replaced.
The Adairs lost their own beachfront home. Yet the Camille Bed & Breakfast survived, serving for several days as Katrina coverage headquarters for New York Times reporter Sewell Chan.
The Adairs closed the Camille Bed & Breakfast in 2007, selling the property in 2009.
Personally adopting two dogs and 19 cats who had been left homeless by Hurricane Katrina, the Adairs and David expanded the MS SPAN coalition to include 78 partner veterinarians and 45 humane organizations statewide. Within a year after Katrina, MS SPAN had sterilized more than 3,700 dogs and cats, using a 53-foot mobile clinic borrowed from the Humane Alliance, of Asheville, North Carolina.
MS SPAN has continued to grow ever since, with a new fixed-site clinic scheduled to open on October 30, 2019 in Richland, Mississippi.
Dayton Ogden ‘Hawk’ Hyde, 93, died on December 22, 2018, at the 6,000-acre Yamsi Ranch near Chiloquin, Oregon, that his family has owned since 1911.
Hyde for the first two-thirds of his life was actively involved in animal use industries, but drifted gradually into advocating for animals and habitat. Hyde devoted his last 30 years to establishing the nonprofit Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, where approximately 500 wild horses obtained from the Bureau of Land Management roam 11,000 acres between Hot Springs and Edgemont, South Dakota.
“Hyde hadn’t lived in the Klamath Basin for more than 30 years, but he returned to his family’s Yamsi Ranch shortly before Thanksgiving,” wrote longtime Klamath County Herald & News editor Lee Juillerat.
“Hyde had made only infrequent Klamath Basin visits since leaving Yamsi in 1988 to establish the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary,” Juillerat explained.
Gerda Hyde, his wife of 65 years, remained at Yamsi, ranching and managing a guided fishing business with her sons, grandsons, and their wives, until her death on August 30, 2017.
Hopped a westbound train
“Born in 1925 in Marquette, Michigan,” Juillerat recalled, “Dayton Hyde was 13 years old when he caught a freight train to Oregon, lured to Yamsi, located near the headwaters of the Williamson River, by his uncle, Buck Williams, and his tales of wild horses, trout caught with a wash pan, and life in the wild West.”
Buck Williams had established Yamsi Ranch on land purchased from local Native Americans. Dayton and Gerda Hyde bought the ranch from Williams in 1952, soon after both earned degrees from the University of California at Berkeley.
There Dayton Hyde wrote 20 books about animals and nature, beginning with Sandy: The True Story of a Sandhill Crane, published in 1968.
Hyde also wrote books about loons and coyotes before wild horses became his focal topic in Thunder of the Mustangs, 1997, and All the Wild Horses, 2006––which were, respectively, his seventeenth and last books.
From rodeo clown to horse sanctuarian
“Hyde lived a full life,” wrote Juillerat, “not only as a rancher and author, but also as a naturalist, environmentalist, cowboy historian, rodeo photographer and rodeo clown.”
During World War II, Hyde “served with Patton’s Third Army and swam ashore at Normandy on D-Day,” Juillerat continued. “While stationed in France after the allied victory in Europe, he staged rodeos in the Roman amphitheater at Arles. He was named Conservationist of the Year by three different Oregon governors, named the National Cattleman’s Association Environmentalist of the Year, and his book Don Coyote (1986) was named one of the 10 best books of the 1980s by the American Library Association.
“Hyde was featured in a documentary film, Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde, produced and directed by Suzanne Mitchell.
The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, owned by the nonprofit Institute of Range and the American Mustang, is now directed by Susan Watt, who has lived and worked at the sanctuary since 1995.
Susan Theresa Rudnicki, 63, a donor to ANIMALS 24-7 and occasional contributor of comments on coverage, died on May 23, 2019.
Born in Burwell, Nebraska, Rudnicki earned her undergraduate degree at San Diego State University, then did graduate work in dental hygiene at the University of Southern California, while also serving as West Los Angeles chapter chief for Zero Population Growth.
Rudnicki later volunteered in support of the Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden, Manhattan Beach Pollinators Alliance, Huntington Botanical Gardens, National Wildlife Federation, American Wild Horse Campaign, Lucky Duck Rescue & Sanctuary, Too Many Bunnies, and Trust, Love, Respect Horse Rescue, and was a donor to at least 90 animal and environmental protection organizations altogether.
Recalled The Beach Reporter, covering the Los Angeles coastal suburbs since 1977, “Susan committed the final decade of her life to rescuing, rehoming, and rejuvenating beehives across the Los Angeles area. She was consistently relied upon by Los Angeles International Airport for rescuing swarms on airport property, and by countless local residents of Los Angeles who discovered hives in their walls or around their property. She spent years volunteering as the sole bee rescuer for Manhattan Beach Public Works. She continued to mentor beekeeping apprentices all the way into the final days of her life.”
Rudnicki left two sons, Rhett Rudnicki and Colin Peterson.
Alana Cutland, 19, a Cambridge University student who was helping to research the lives and habitat of rare and endangered crabs in the remote Anjajavy region of Madagascar, on July 25, 2019 fell to her death from a light plane that was attempting to evacuate her after she suffered an apparent severe reaction to the antibacterial drug Doxycycline.
“The second-year student had reportedly suffered ‘paranoia attacks’ while on the research trip,” wrote Mail Online reporter Caroline Davies. “She had been in regular contact with her mother, Alison, who works at Cranfield University near Milton Keynes, and her father Neil, an environmental engineer, who had reportedly encouraged her to cut short her six-week trip and come home.
“The plane’s pilot, Mahefa Tahina Rantoanina, said Cutland had a headache when she boarded and stayed silent during the flight, which was said to be taking her to a hospital so she could be declared fit to fly back to the United Kingdom,” Davies wrote.
Elaborated local police chief Sinola Nomenjahary, to Davies, “After 10 minutes of flight, Alana undid her seatbelt and unlocked the right door of the plane and tried to get out.”
Ruth Johnson, 51, sent on the flight to escort Cutland, “fought for five minutes trying to hold her,” Nomenjahary said, but ultimately failed.
Matthew Talbot, 22, of the Coldstream Guards, was on May 12, 2019 stampeded by an elephant at Liwonde National Park in Malawi while participating in Operation Corded, a British Army counter-poaching deployment. Talbot was on his first deployment after training.
Talbot’s patrol reportedly saw the elephant, who charged them from behind, only moments earlier.
“The rangers fired shots and lit bangers to scare off the elephants, but it was too late to save Talbot, who died of his wounds shortly afterward,” wrote Isabella Nikolic for the Mail OnLine.