‘In God We Trust’ decals proposed for city vehicles

City Council members seem inclined to accept a proposal by local veterinarian Matt Stachmus to create decals for city vehicles bearing the slogan “In God We Trust,” following a presentation by Stachmus at a recent meeting.

Stachmus suggested the decals to commemorate an incident involving two dogs, his ill daughter and a couple of guns that produced an unfortunate consequence, but that could have turned out much worse, if not for the grace of God, and that ultimately produced a clear benefit, according to Stachmus.

Solicitor Dan Stants said he should check out the legality of posting “In God We Trust” on publicly owned vehicles, because the U.S. Supreme Court has “been all over the place” on where religious postings are acceptable on public property, but Councilman Dave Butterbaugh dismissed the concern.

“Some liberal wacko may sue us,” Butterbaugh said. “But it’s the right thing to do.”

After all, it’s the national motto, Butterbaugh said.

Last year, at Stachmus’ urging, council posted a plaque bearing the same motto on the front wall of the multi-station desk behind which members sit in chambers, as a commemoration for Stachmus’ Guat­e­malan-born wife becoming an American citizen.

This time, Stachmus is suggesting posting the motto on vehicles in connection with a walk he took in 2015 with his wife, his then 5-year-old daughter, who has an auto-immune disease, and their small terrier.

During the walk, a Rottweiler darted out from a nearby home and attacked their terrier, taking the small dog’s head in its jaws.

The Rottweiler’s owner, Bill Perkins, came out and tried to help, but couldn’t.

Stachmus was carrying a handgun, drew it, and — without objections from Perk­ins — shot the Rottweiler.

Perkins also was armed, Stachmus said.

The terrier was mortally wounded, and Stachmus was preparing to shoot it too, to end the animal’s pain, but his wife persuaded him against it.

They went home.

“Two dogs dead, two families numb,” Stachmus said.

Later, Perkins, who was present at the council meeting to hand out photocopies of the proposed decal design, contacted Stachmus.

“I realized he had no malice,” Stachmus told council. “I told him I forgave him.”

Since then, they’ve be­come close friends, attending religious meetings together, Stachmus said.

Ultimately, the Stachmus family adopted another dog to replace the terrier, one a client was trying to find a home for.

Perkins also rescued a dog to replace the Rottweiler, Stachmus said.

What if the Rottweiler had attacked his daughter? Stachmus asked rhetorically.

She might have died, he said.

Or what if Perkins, in­stead of giving Stachmus consent to shoot, had drawn his gun and shot Stachmus? the veterinarian asked rhetorically.

“Sometimes things that happen seem awful,” Stachmus said. “But God brought a lot of good things out.”

“You’re to be commended,” said Councilman Bruce Kelley.

“Your story is wonderful,” Councilman Erik Cagle said.

Stachmus indicated he’ll discuss with city department heads what kind of departmental symbols might be included on the decals.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

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