The pasty-white young man had come to the beach to bask in the warm sunshine, inhale the balmy ocean breezes, and soak in the salt water at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.

He certainly didn't plan on gulping seawater and nearly drowning that Sunday afternoon.

The beach was crowded with locals and tourists; we're pretty sure he and his wife fit into the latter category because of their milky skin. While we lay on the beach we heard some unusual, high-pitched screams of Woo! Woo! Thinking it was some jerky young men calling out to women, we looked away and rolled over.

But the young man had been caught in the rip current just 50 yards offshore and appeared to suck in some water before two sunbathers, hearing his cry, jumped in (being journalists, we watched) and eventually brought him to shore. He barfed up some saltwater and lay down in shock. Where were the lifeguards we asked? Nonexistent at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.

It seems this little seaside community loves the moneyed tourists staying at its numerous and quaint little motels but apparently doesn't want to pay to protect them. There is a sign at the major entryway to the beach warning that you swim at your own risk, but is that enough for the thousands who flock there? Many of the visitors, of course, are unfamiliar with the ocean and its power.

It becomes clear where Lauderdale-by-the-Sea's priorities lay when we walked back to the parking lot and saw that the city does employ busy meter maids, who hand out $25 parking tickets.

So Dr. Becky Rhoades, director of Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control, has announced she is leaving the pound and her post after just five months.

Could it have anything to do with the fact that she pissed off scores of volunteers working with animal-rescue groups -- not to mention employees of animal control -- in her first month on the job? She refused to hand over stray animals to the rescue groups and was widely believed to be euthanizing the poor doggies and kitties (which was detailed exclusively in an October New Times story). Could it have anything to do with a memo that was leaked to rescuers in which Rhoades stated that all newborn pups less than eight weeks old and all pregnant dogs would be put to sleep?

The official reason for Rhoades' departure, according to her boss, Paul Milelli, director of public safety: She wanted to return to operations. He denies that the brouhaha with the rescue groups had anything to do with her resignation or that she was forced out. Rhoades herself stated at a recent board meeting of the organization that she did not like being an administrator.

Oh, OK. Guess that's why she is going to be a consultant to the larger International Humane Society. Yipes! Let's hope she doesn't bring her hypodermic needle with her.

Got a tip? Call 954-233-1581, fax 954-233-1571, or e-mail [email protected].

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Tom Walsh
Contact: Tom Walsh