A NC family was watching someone else’s Pitbull in their home last month when the dog bit the 2 year old toddler in the face. No details on the circumstances surrounding the bite are provided. The child’s mother reportedly then shot the dog, dragged him outside and left him to suffer in the freezing cold overnight. When officers responded to her 911 call the next day, the dog was still suffering outside and was euthanized. The mother has been charged with animal cruelty and discharging a firearm in public.
I found the story of Mittens, a mama cat allegedly set on fire by two 17 year old boys in Baltimore, too disturbing to write much about. Depending on how well you cope with these types of things, you may choose to read the details in the police report. You can also read a brief synopsis of the case (graphic photo of Mittens’ injuries at top of page). On a cheerier note, Mittens is expected to survive and there is a video of her in recovery with her 3 kittens here. (The video is graphic in that it shows her wounds but it also shows how very sweet and loving she remains with people, despite her trauma.)
The other story that’s kept me up at night – and prevented me from blogging much lately – is that of the trial of twin Baltimore brothers accused of setting a Pitbull on fire in May 2009. As if the story as we knew it wasn’t horrible enough, new details have emerged in testimony about the unbelievable suffering the dog – later named Phoenix – endured. I won’t post the details here but suffice to say:
“On a scale of one to 10,” her pain level was “10,” said veterinarian Jennifer McGough, who treated Phoenix at a Pennsylvania emergency animal center for several days. The dog had puncture wounds on her neck and a leg, as if she’d been in dog fights before, but she showed no aggression.
“The degree of pain she was in was beyond belief,” McGough said, yet Phoenix “was just a lovely dog throughout the experience.”
The extent of Phoenix’s injuries was so great that after 5 days of veterinary care, she was deemed medically hopeless and euthanized to end her suffering.
I read about Mittens and the new details in the Phoenix case about the same time as reading the story of the mass sled dog slaughter in B.C. Had to take a mental health break.
While it is sometimes extraordinarily difficult to get through these stories, I do think they have a significant place in the big picture. Violence against pets – including the needless killing of healthy/treatable pets in shelters – is a societal issue which we have failed to adequately address for far too long. While individual acts of cruelty represent a tiny fraction of the pet owning public, needless shelter killing represents a systemic attitude excusing and whitewashing violence against pets. If we as a humane society fail to embrace the concept of no kill in our animal shelters, how can we expect our justice system to live up to our expectations when prosecuting individual cases of animal cruelty? And how do we expect our children, who are often provided so-called humane education by the same public shelter staff responsible for the needless killing of millions of pets each year, to cultivate compassion toward pets?
As such, I feel it is our obligation to not look away from these heartbreaking stories of cruelty. Because if we, as pet lovers and advocates and rescuers, do not face stories of cruelty in all their forms – who will? In order to further progress toward the no kill nation we seek, a strong and constant voice of protest from the riffraff is a necessity.
Today, more than ever before, life must be characterized by a sense of Universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life. – His Holiness the Dalai Lama