Animal Protection >
4445 Trans Canada
Cobble Hill BC Canada
THE MONSTERS AMONG
the Veterinary Hospital while she was still on the table. Two
technicians were stroking and comforting her while the Doctor
calculated the appropriate amount of drug to use. Her big round eyes
followed me, eyes that seemed out of place on a dog – a sea
picked her up after an emergency call came into our shelter late
had found a dog running loose on the street. She had called the dog
and discovered wounds on the dog’s left side. She comforted the dog,
called the SPCA’s answering machine and left a message. According to
the girl, a few minutes later, a man walking on the far side of the
street caught the dog’s attention. The dog’s behaviour indicated to
the girl that the dog knew this man. She asked the man if this was
know that your dog is hurt?” she asked, noticing the man’s eyes
appeared blurry, and he was unsteady on his feet. The smell of
alcohol was sharp. His upper lip crusted with blood, dried and dark
– like the blood on the dog’s shoulder. He staggered backward
jostling the pack on his back, causing its contents to shift and
the girl and the dog noticed.
in the pack?” She asked.
smiled and took the pack off his back. He unzipped the top. The
heads of three tiny puppies emerged, from below, two more heads with
shining black little eyes wiggled into view. The five pups were
barely old enough to have their eyes open. Their little ears were
still flat to their skulls. Their black and tan fur stood up soft
and fuzzy. Their mother, the bleeding dog, pushed her way to the
backpack and shoved her head into the middle of her litter and gave
them all a cursory lick.
girl asked the man “What happened to the dog? Why is she
wife stabbed her. Then she punched me, then she took off.”
explanation astounded her. She was not a mother herself, but
instincts of nurturing took over and she unconsciously laid claim to
the bag of puppies. Over the course of the next few minutes, she
talked the man into leaving the puppies with the mother dog. The man
wanted to keep one of the pups as his own, even though the puppies
were only about14 days old. The girl convinced him that this was not
the best idea, “Because the babies need their mother,” she
pointed to a distant apartment building and told the girl that he
would be back after he went to see his mother in apartment #
gave the girl the break she needed. After the man was out of sight,
she once again called our machine, took the number for emergency
dispatch and called for our assistance.
her there, the dog lying with her head in the girls lap, a small
knot of people around them blocking the entrance to the rundown
apartment building. The dog’s eyes were huge, not quite bulging, but
bigger than normal, maybe an illusion resulting from the skeletal
shape of her emaciated body. The amount of blood visible on the
girl’s hands and clothes was alarming. The dog was in shock, her
gums were pale and her breathing was shallow and rapid. She was
alert though…and hungry. When I offered her some kibble, a
collective “Ahhh” went up from the crowd of people - she sprang to
her feet looking for more food, urgently sniffing the ground.
been lying on her injured side and the matted hair and blood became
visible. She limped toward my van; for the moment forgetting about
her pups, pursuing the much-needed food that I was using to leading
her. I did not want to use a rope because I could not tell where all
the wounds were. I carefully lifted her into the van and slid the
door closed. I collected the pups and hurried to the animal
Initially, we could not tell how serious her injuries were. I
waited while the Vet shaved the area around a stab wound that was
visible on her right side. It turned out to be a flesh wound. The
knife appeared to have glanced off her ribs and exited, doing damage
to her skin only and not penetrating into her abdomen.
laid very still, needing only minimal restraint. It seemed as if she
knew she needed help, and she was grateful to receive it.
total, she had five stab wounds. Two to her ribcage, one to her
cheek and the deepest, most injurious was to her right shoulder. The
knife had penetrated the muscle, cutting deeply, luckily missing any
major arteries or veins. The Veterinarian decided it would be best
if the dogs remained in his care for the night.
transferred the puppies into a kennel, we discovered that each pup
had had a rubber band tied to its tail. This method of tail docking
is heart wrenching, often times resulting in pain and suffering
from: infection, gangrene or spinal abscesses resulting in paralysis
and ultimately death. Fortunately the pups were infection free.
the building that night wondering about the human
type of person could do such a thing?
kind of demons wage war behind their eyes – battles that no one else
can see? Do they want help? Can they be helped?
sit here writing this. I have more questions than ever. I wonder
about the monsters among us, and the angels that teach
turned “Momma” loose today. She touched all the workers in the
clinic with her big eyes and heart so full of trust
loaded her in my van, and took her to the shelter. I could not bring
myself to unload her there, she does not deserve to be thrown into a
situation like that: the terrifying smells, the concrete, sounds and
threats of the other dogs, the risk of infection and disease. I left
her in the van, loaded a big crate and brought her home to
recuperate by the fire. I believed that she would acclimate to the
hustle and bustle of my four kids and four dogs easier than the
foreign environment of the Shelter.
investigation progressed, I learned that the police had been to the
house for an assault complaint. The officer reported that no one had
been “assaulted”, but noted that the woman had killed the dog, in
front of the children, and put it in a garbage can. The report makes
no mention of the police seeing the body – unfortunately, it is not
“illegal” to kill your dog. “How” you kill, your dog can be
“Illegal” and charges are pending in this case.
curious part of this affair is the dog herself.
behavior, trust and personality all tell a far different story than
her wounds do.
that has suffered repeated abuse tends to demonstrate symptoms
similar to abused human children, including: fear of being struck,
fear of fast movements, short attention spans, distrust – visible in
dogs by tense muscles, rapid assessments of its surroundings
-plotting exit routes, tucked tail indicating fear, sensitivity to
loud noises. The list could go on for pages.
behaves much like any other, normal “un-abused” dog.
Actually, in some ways she acts like a dog that has lived a
pampered and spoiled life. She will steal food from the garbage,
jump up on you when she is happy to see you, she will force your
attention by pushing you with her nose or her paw. Of course, her
malnourished body indicates this is not true.
bringing her home, I left her with a bowl of food in the van. When I
returned to check on her, I was reminded of the final scenes of Ol’
Yeller…I slid the door open and faced a snarling set of teeth,
accompanied by a growl that could have loosened the bowels of
Siefried and Roy. ”Momma” was not going to let me or anyone else,
near her food.
Initially, I thought she was growling at a pup that had
crawled near her front leg. It was incredible. She held a long growl
and snarl, staring hard at the pup. I watched and was amazed to see
the body language play out between the two. The puppy, not big
enough to walk properly, lay parallel with its mother. It lie
motionless listening to the growl; then, quite purposely and
dramatically, it turned its head away from his mother. At that
instant Momma stopped growling…until she spotted me watching her…she
growled and snarled threateningly…YIKES! I averted my gaze without
moving, much as the little pup had. Momma stopped growling. I sensed
that I was not in danger, if I played by her rules. There was no
adrenalin rush, no hairs raising on the back of my neck…This Momma
dog was talking an ancient language, shared between social species,
irrespective of predator or prey status. She was saying “This is my
food” and at the same time “I need you.”…but making it clear that
her food was more important to her than I was.
worker to the shelter came past the van just as the puppy turned its
head back toward his mother. Momma instantly took up her Ol’ Yeller,
act again. The worker became somewhat frantic at the whole
you’re crazy. Close the door and let me get out of here.” She
to explain to her the value of this situation -as a learning
opportunity for her. To see how this starving little mother,
underfed for so long, was now - in her mind - happy, relatively
safe, was determined to keep what she perceived as hers (very
convincing she was too!). How under normal circumstances she would
be deemed “food aggressive”, how she could be seen as “dangerous”.
How, at the same time her “aggression” - determinedly focused on
survival, was controlled and purposeful. Her behaviour in the vet
clinic while injured, demonstrated her trust and love of us human
creatures, her submissiveness was apparent by the lack of force
needed to hold her down to inspect her painful wounds.
her use of “language”, her ability to communicate is so strong,
clear and concise as to be painfully moving for those who care to
listen. Where others see danger and threat, I see eloquence and
is at home with me now. Her affinity to my children was instant.
almost see her remembering her human children -the ones that had
seen their mother stab the family’s dog.
I had a
flash of her, huddled in a dark room, tiny hands and arms clutching
her neck for security, or trying to comfort her. While outside the
room, a war of anger and abuse raged on between the drunken
“grown-ups” of the house: Angry shouts, thrown articles, screams,
slamming doors, the back of her neck growing damp with the tears of
with her “outburst” I couldn’t leave her at the shelter. She was not
a monster, in spite of what my coworker thought. She was not
“dangerous”, she had been in danger. She needed to feel whole again.
Not, institutionalized with a litter of babies in a concrete cell.
She was predictable, I knew I could deal with it…easier than I could
deal with myself if I would have left her at the shelter.
greatest disservice to animals, perpetrated time and again, is the
ability of us humans to ease our conscience in keeping animals out
of our hearts by calling them “unpredictable”.
you take the time to learn the language, every species of animal is
predictable, with the exception of only one …