Once was blind: When Buzz has a problem with our eyes it gets written off to any number (one, to be exact) of seedy activities from the night before. But when former Dallas Observer managing editor Emily Benedek briefly lost her sight a few years back, it was a religious experience.

Benedek moved to Dallas in the early '90s to be with her journalist boyfriend and took a job as a producer at WFAA-Channel 8; neither relationship lasted terribly long, stranding the New York transplant in a "small town" she didn't much like. "There is not much sightseeing in Dallas except Dealey Plaza and the Book Depository," she writes, much to the delight, no doubt, of the Chamber of Commerce. "Although Dallas has its share of luxurious and beautiful neighborhoods, many areas lack the slightest aesthetic note." Hey, what some call ugly, we call home.

One morning, Benedek awoke without sight, the reasons for which became a small mystery. Benedek used the experience to reconnect with her religion, and so hers became a world of MRIs and rabbis, tests and Torah readings. Benedek, who now lives in New York, has documented the rediscovery of her faith in a new book, Through the Unknown, Remembered Gate.

Ah, finally. Proof that not all Dallas Observer employees are heathens.

Sal-lute!: Even those of us who are of the heathenish persuasion, meaning Buzz, can sometimes admire those who do good works. Dee Stephens, the new animal cruelty investigator for the Humane Society of Greater Dallas, is one of those people.

The 29-year-old Arlington native began work in June as Governor Rick Perry signed a bill making animal cruelty a felony punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and two years in prison. Previously, animal cruelty was a Class A misdemeanor. Sadly, she's already busy; Stephens has fielded about 30 calls since setting up a hotline to take tips, though not all of the calls have involved cruelty complaints. She previously held a similar job with the Humane Society of North Texas, where she managed more than 3,000 cases in a 20-county area in roughly two years. "There are so many dogs starving to death," she says.

Stephens says she tries to work with negligent pet owners; nastier cases she turns over to law enforcement.

Here's hoping that you never need to call Stephens, but if you do, that number is (469) 556-4743.

--Compiled by Patrick Williams

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams

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