"I know what the caged bird feels"

In this terrible economy, I’m inclined to feel sympathy for anyone who gets evicted from his home and has to move to another city. He’s obviously not moving by choice and who knows why he was evicted – maybe he just fell on hard times financially.

In the case of someone who has 7 Pitbulls (a male, a female and a litter of 5 pups), that’s going to be a tough situation. I can’t think of many landlords who would be eager to accept a tenant who’s bringing along a reproducing pair of Pitbulls and their current offspring. In fact, I’d wager many friends and relatives would feel the same way. In a case like this, networking online, reaching out to local rescues and placing ads in area papers to place the dogs might all be options. And if nothing works out, there is always your local shelter. This is what animal shelters are for. But a NJ man by the name of Keifan Thomas had a different idea when he was faced with these circumstances this Winter.

Mr. Thomas packed up the plantation and chained his adult male dog to the fence, stuffed the dam into a small metal cage and let the puppies roam around the trash in the yard. In Winter. In New Jersey. Three weeks later, a neighboring business called animal control who picked up the dogs. The dam was, of course, dead in her cage. The other dogs survived and were adopted at the shelter. That’s the good news.

Mr. Thomas pleaded guilty to 4 counts of animal cruelty and received – can you guess? – a suspended jail sentence. On the plus side, he did receive a substantial fine. An AC officer noted that “Mr. Thomas appeared to be sympathetic” – Right. I’m guessing he sympathized with himself for getting caught and for having to pay a fine. It’s hard to imagine him having any sympathy for the dogs, which is like the whole point. I assume he’ll be getting another dog (or dogs) sometime soon since the article makes no mention of Mr. Thomas being barred from owning pets.

The AC officer said he hopes Mr. Thomas has learned a lesson. I hope so too and I like to think everyone deserves a second chance blah blah blah. It’s hard though. Stuffing the dam into a little metal cage in freezing temperatures – that would be cruel if he’d done it for an hour. He did it until that poor dog died. She suffered while her puppies ambled through trash around her cage, probably crying for their mama. I can imagine the male, alert barking until he was hoarse, chained to the fence. It’s a real stretch to think of someone who would do that to his own pets being in any way “sympathetic”.


I know what the caged bird feels.
Ah me, when the sun is bright on the upland slopes,
when the wind blows soft through the springing grass
and the river floats like a sheet of glass,
when the first bird sings and the first bud ops,
and the faint perfume from its chalice steals.
I know what the caged bird feels.

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
till its blood is red on the cruel bars,
for he must fly back to his perch and cling
when he fain would be on the bow aswing.
And the blood still throbs in the old, old scars
and they pulse again with a keener sting.
I know why he beats his wing.

I know why the caged bird sings.
Ah, me, when its wings are bruised and its bosom sore.
It beats its bars and would be free.
It’s not a carol of joy or glee,
but a prayer that it sends from its heart’s deep core,
a plea that upward to heaven it flings.
I know why the caged bird sings.

– Paul Laurence Dunbar

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