I question a society where those who step up to save a dying animal are arrested and prosecuted; yet those who allow an animal to suffer and die in their very own yards are rarely brought to justice and seldom even charged with more than a minor infraction.
I am slated to stand trial for theft and receiving stolen property for aiding a dog who lay chained, unable to stand, and dying in it's owners' yard for three days. May 21st I am back in court to choose a jury in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania.
Ironically, May 21st is also the day the Good Mayor of a town in Minnesota goes back to court for a crime involving his chained dog. In this case the defendant sentenced his "wire-haired hunting dog" (we'll call him Wiryfor short) to death by freezing in sub-zero temperatures, with only a feces-laden crate for shelter. He is charged NOT with animal cruelty, as one who has any faith in the justice system would expect, but instead with failure to provide proper housing, a 'petty misdemeanor' charge.
His 'petty misdemeanor' charge is even less for KILLING his dog than my 'misdemeanor' charge is for SAVING a dog.
Neighbors say they heard the dog crying for help. None came.
Before heading to archives, the comment section on the Good Mayor's news story at sctimes.com numbered 105 comments and still climbing, indicative of a story that raises serious moral and ethical questions. One of the more pressing questions on people's minds was "If the neighbors heard the dog crying, why didn't they step up to help?"
A person identifying him/herself only as Fed Up stated the story was indeed true, as he/she had personally heard the dog's cries for help. Indignant questions of "Why didn't you DO something" met only with silence from Fed Up.
As one embroiled in the same ethical/moral dilemma that Fed Up faced, I truly empathize with his/her plight. Since my arrest, I have endured personal onslaughts of my character from the district attorney, police chief, and other organizations as well as from strangers, new-found enemies, and former friends. They range from mild (she broke the law, period) to the irrational (all the evidence is faked, any eighth grader with photoshop could have created both the photos and the video�fyi, my son is in eighth grade, but insists he has NO idea how to work photoshop, so I've proven that one wrong, thank God...)
Fed Up was caught in a moral dilemma, and had to make a choice between his/her own personal safety and the safety of the dog. We know which choice Fed Up made. He/she now has to live every single day with the guilt created by this decision. Fed Up may well endure nightmares and go to the grave with the guilt of Wiry's death heavy on his/her conscience.
Given what I've had to endure at the hands of local authorities as a result of my decision to save Doogie, I can certainly understand why someone would not choose to act to save the life. How much worse would it have been for Fed Up to save the MAYOR's dog? The Good Mayor would have plenty of community pull, and Fed Up would be tarred, feathered, and hanged by daybreak, any thoughts of Wiry's mistreatment and impending doom completely forgotten and rationalized away by authorities and community members alike. They would all wonder what got into that darn neighbor, usually such a nice, quiet citizen...why would Fed Up suddenly go berserk and start stealing the private property of the Good Mayor? It would make no sense in a justice system centered on dogs as nothing more than property, having no feelings or right to life in and of itself.
I myself was duly notified by the Upstanding Police Chief that if I ever came near his dog, he'd put a slug in my a**. He also stated in the Daily Collegian that my video could well have been faked, that he could take his dog out, drag it through the mud, and get horrible-looking video like that too. But Mr. Police Chief, would not that very act of dragging your best friend through the mud actually constitute abusive behavior on your part? As you probably have no fear of being prosecuted, I can see why you would feel free to envision such a form of torture for your pet.
Until we force our nation to evolve, acting as a Good Samaritan for dogs on chains will be a "damned if you do, damned if you don't"kinda' thang. If you DO step up to save the life, you may well be the one arrested; and if you don't, you will live with the poor creature's death on your head for all eternity. Not a pleasant choice by any stretch of the imagination.
I am certainly not the first to take action to save a dying chained dog. I may be the first to get such compelling evidence of the crime committed against the dog, to fight for the right of a dog not to die on the end of a chain, and to stand for my right to act as a Good Samaritan. I won't be the last.
Fed Up is not the first to let fear stop him/her from saving a life, and Fed Up will not be the last.
The Good Mayor and Doogie's owners are not the first and will not be the last to get away with animal cruelty by allowing their dog to die on the end of a chain. They are merely links in a chain of abuse that has been ongoing for centuries, and which only we can stop.
It's up to US to make these kind of Americans a dying breed. It's up to US to stop tolerating the abuse, start enforcing laws protecting animals, and create stronger laws limiting chaining for man's best friend. Every social movement succeeds ONLY when the people stop letting fear get in the way of taking the necessary action. When the people stand up, the power shifts from abuser to right action. Laws change, tolerance of social injustice ends.
I consider myself lucky, despite facing charges, that I am not in Fed Up's shoes. I know Doogie would thank me if he could, and nothing man can do to me could take that away from me. I wake up each morning knowing I did as Jesus would have done, and Doogie's life being extended almost six months in a loving, caring environment is more than all the proof I need.
Wiry never made it through the night; dying a cold, sad, lonely, frightening death.
I urge everyone placed in the horrible position of Fed Up and myself to push fear aside, to do whatever it takes to save the life. If time is not of the essence, fight hard for authorities to take the necessary life-saving steps. Don't back down to authorities if they act like you don't know what you're talking about or you should mind your own business. If the dog is suffering and death is imminent, that is EVERYONE'S business!
If they refuse to take the plight of the dying animal seriously or do not respond at all to pleas for help, realize you are on your own, and that life is depending on YOU. You may be the only lifeline that dog has, please do not toss it aside lightly.
Doogie's life mattered. Wiry's life mattered. Every life matters.
Tammy S. Grimes, founder, Dogs Deserve Better