Abandonment Issues

Okay, I know I’ve been quiet the past few days – the only excuse I have is, it’s been a bit chaotic on my side of the world. As excuses go, that one’s not too shabby. But have no fear, you’ll soon be regaled with the craziness that is my life. Lucky you! In the meantime, I thought I would leave you with a rant. I haven’t ranted in a while, so face it, we’re due.

I have to say that every now and then, something comes along that makes me wonder if humans are truly the most evolved species, as experts claim.    Take this incident, for example … dogs abandoned on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere, by their despicable owner.

This hurts my heart on so many levels.  Those dogs are terrified, and looking to their owner for direction.  You can see the confusion in their eyes when she leaves them.  How heartless do you have to be to take an innocent animal who depends on you and dump them on the side of the road?

The look on the woman’s face speaks volumes about her personally.  She doesn’t have an ounce of regret in her expression.  The only thing she regrets, I’m sure, is being caught by the Good Samaritan.

Was it a boyfriend, making her choose between the dogs and himself?  Sorry, sir, you would lose that gamble every time if it was me. Maybe she just got tired of caring for them or couldn’t afford to feed them any longer.  Was she too proud to take them to the shelter?  How did she think leaving them on the side of the road was any better?

I find it interesting that she took one of the dogs to the local shelter after she had dumped them.  I’d like to think she had a twinge of conscience, a moment of humanity, or a sense of guilt and went back to find them.

More likely, though, she probably was afraid that she would be caught and punished for her thoughtless, selfish behavior if she didn’t turn herself in voluntarily.  I am not sure anything close to a soul exists in someone who would do this. Quite frankly, I also blame the driver … not as much as the owner, mind, but still. How could they witness what was happening and say nothing, do nothing?

If it sounds like I’m being harsh, well, yeah, I am.

I can’t imagine living in a world where people leave babies in dumpsters, kill each other because one driver cut off another on the freeway, and abandon animals.  This is not the world I want to wake up to.  Every morning I turn on the news, open social media, or listen to a morning show on the radio hoping that the day before would be free of atrocity and heartbreak.

And every morning, I am thoroughly disappointed.

I find comfort in the fact that two out of four of these dogs have already found forever homes, and I know the other two will as well.  But I wonder if they ever miss the woman who abandoned them.  I wonder if they watch for her out of the window, tails wagging, hoping to see her car pull up in the driveway of the place they now consider home. Or maybe they realize all too well they’re better off now, without her.

Mostly, though, I wonder if the woman who dumped them like so much garbage at a dead-end, on a cloudy, grey day feels regret, and I wonder if she ever replays the moment when she closed the car door and saw them looking at her in fear, confusion, and expectation before she left them.

I hope she does, and I hope it haunts her dreams.

Because it sure as hell haunts mine.

Caution – Rant Ahead

Do any of you remember when I wrote about Marius, the giraffe in the Copenhagen Zoo that was killed when he was only 2 years old because he was deemed to be “surplus” If not, I urge you to click on this link for a refresher. If you don’t have the time to read the full article, here’s the short and sweet version: The Copenhagen Zoo encouraged their giraffes to breed…lo and behold Marius was brought into the world. However, after zoo doctors found Marius’ genes to be too common (common, not inbred) for breeding, they shot him in the head, dissected him in front of a crowd (of mostly children) and fed his meat to lions. Who cares that nearby wildlife parks offered to take him off their hands? Who cares that there was a public outcry? Who cares that it seems hypocritical that a breeding program would decrease the population of a species it is trying to save? And what about the four lions who ended up feasting on Marius’ remains — which included two young cubs — this same zoo killed them not long after they offed Marius, because they had to make room for just one incoming alpha male?

Who cares about those trivial little questions? Well, let’s just move on to what’s going on at the Copenhagen Zoo NOW, shall we? Oh look, a brand new baby giraffe was just born there (in September 2016). Yes, you read that correctly. A mere two years after one giraffe was killed because he was a “surplus animal” the zoo breeds another of the exact same animal. You’d think this means that they have their surplus problem all figured out and this latest birth is guaranteed a long, healthy life. You would think that, but you’d be wrong. As a spokesman for the zoo states, there’s no guarantee that this new baby giraffe won’t end up with the same fate as Marius. They’re admitting that, yeah, they might kill this one off as well if things don’t work out the way they want them to.

But that may not happen. This giraffe might make it to the ripe old age or 3, 4, maybe even 5! It just won’t be at the Copenhagen Zoo. When the little guy hits 2 years old he might get shipped off to another zoo like a product ordered off Amazon. Although that’s not a guarantee.

Don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe that there are some zoos that do a great job at saving endangered animals, but it’s a Catch-22 because most zoos, as they are now, are simply not great for the animals. They’re having success in breeding, but look at what the animals are being bred into. They’re pretty much led straight from the womb to a guillotine. You might say this cycle of systematic culling is simply a European practice I cannot abide, but it’s not. Zoos right here in the US regularly sell surplus animals or euthanize them. Which begs the important question, why? Why breed so-called surplus animals in the first place?

Okay, yes, strides for bettering the treatment of animals are being made. Take circuses for examples. Their animal acts, if not wholly banned, are much more tightly regulated now than in the past. However, Barnum & Bailey just sent their elephants to a “sanctuary” that also happens to run experiments on the animals in the name of science (cancer research). So, while they’re not chained to posts or crammed into claustrophobic train cars or forced to do stupid acts for a crowd, did they really win? Who knows the extent of the research they are subjected to. All I know is that the phrase “testing on animals” rarely means something good is going on. While perhaps the research facility may not be a house of horrors, I can’t imagine it’s as good as living on an actual sanctuary where they have nothing to do but eat, sleep, and be all elephant-y.

Barnum & Bailey got rid of their big cat act, too. Don’t applaud just yet. In an effort to make a final buck on these animals, they’ve been sold to other circuses and events who DO still perform animal acts. God knows what their living conditions will be. So, it’s really just trading one set of terrible owners for another. What gets me is that with all the millions of dollars Barnum & Bailey have made off these animals, they could at least have given them a proper retirement. It’d be a nice way to say, “thanks for making it through the years of abuse.”  But no. Instead, the circus, yet another greedy corporation, milked every last penny they could out of their elephants and tigers, their well-being be damned.

Say what you will about their diet and environments, but animals in captivity are just that, captive prisoners. When humans decide to interfere with wildlife to such a degree that the animals are entirely dependent, with their very existence depending on the whims of bureaucratic policy, whether it’s a circus or a zoo, then those humans have a solemn responsibility to those animals – their lives should not come down to being deliberately bred into “surplus” only to be cut short or being exploited for a lifetime only to be sold into yet another version of servitude.

At what point are they allowed to simply be a lion, a giraffe, an elephant? By the looks of it, in many cases, the answer is never. To me, that is just an unacceptable answer.

So You Got a Dog

Okay, so you guys have had a free pass from my rants for far too long. Brace yourselves. What brings this one on, you ask?  Well, long story short – dogs.

I saw an ad for a dog someone is trying to rehome for $100. The dog has been with the family for a little over a year. Supposedly he came to them neglected and abused and they had wanted to provide him a forever home. But, BUT, now he’s just too much. Too active for their busy schedules. You know how things go. Oh, he’s a great dog.  Doesn’t mess in the house, doesn’t need to be crated any more, excellent with kids, presumably up to date on his shots, etc. Great dog. Simply a great dog. It’s just he no longer fits into the scheme of things for their family. You know how things go. Shit happens.

So after writing this wonderful ad for him online and posting it on several different boards along with the requisite adorable (and he is adorable) photos and receiving numerous comments of “Oh he’s wonderful…” and “I’d like to have him, but…” and “Check out this rescue if you can’t find a home…” and “I’d like to visit him…” and “I would love to have him…” and the like, the owner responds somewhere in-between: “He’s such a sweetheart. I don’t know. Going back and forth on whether or not to just keep him. I can always just get rid of him later if it still doesn’t work out.” With a cute little smiley face emoticon and everything. Seriously, what the hell?

Either you want the dog or not. I mean for God’s sake. Is he a family member or not? Is he too much? Or is he great? Does he fit into your schedule or can you make time?  Yes, yes, it’s a big decision, I know, I know. But for fuck’s sake, MAKE IT. Make the decision instead of leaving this dog’s life in limbo, because sure as anything if you decide he’s great now you’ll keep him, and next week he’ll suddenly be “too much” again, and here we go, back up on the online local town boards.

And this, folks, these people who can’t figure out that an animal is a sentient being, a pet that should be a family member, this is what drove me to advocacy. Sure, the dog’s not being abused, but how much do you want to bet she does a home check on the next new family?  I wouldn’t take that bet.  So who knows where he’ll end up?

Things change and life happens and sometimes you have to rehome a pet. I try not to judge. But what I AM judging is the flippant attitude of “do I want him or don’t I?”  I mean, she might as well flip a coin at the rate she’s going. At least then the dog would have a chance.

Trolls, Sadists, and The Olympics – Oh My

The Olympics have drawn to a close and it seems as though it was filled with just as much scandal as it was exciting competition. Sadly, it was not without heartbreak or injury either.

If any of you have been following the games, you may have heard about the injury suffered by French Olympian, Samir Ait Said. In the midst of his vault routine landing, Said suffered a broken leg. Not his first. But still devastating and horrific. First, let me say my heart immediately went out to him as images of Joe Thiesmann flashed in my head. And I’m glad to say Said seems to be recovering well, as well as one can after such a terrible event.

But all of that is beside the point, how did I discover this piece of news? Luckily I didn’t witness it like I did Theismann’s injury – that one is still rattling around in my head I’m very sorry to report. No, it was a normal day pretty much like any other day and as I so often do, I was browsing my Facebook newsfeed when lo and behold a news article popped up detailing Said’s botched landing, his subsequent insult to injury when the paramedics dropped him while he was strapped onto a gurney, and an update on his recovery (as much as was known then).  Believe it or not, the story of this awful incident was not the most disturbing thing about the Facebook post in question. Not by a long shot.

You see, apparently the media outlet posting this article had decided to show some respect (gasp!  I know, right!?) to both the athlete and presumably its audience and opted NOT to show the stomach-churning video of the gruesome injury. In fact, from what I understand, numerous news sites and even the Olympic committee had removed various versions of the video due to its grisly nature, not to mention, once again, respect.  And frankly, what purpose does it serve to air such a thing?  But I’m jumping ahead of myself.

As I mentioned, the news story was not the worst thing about this Facebook post and that’s saying something. No. The worst thing was the slew of comments from the bloodthirsty…well, let’s see…trolls? No, that’s not right. Sadists? Horror-mongers? I could come up with some better names, but my mother reads this blog. I digress. Back to the comments.

The story alone was quite detailed and the author talented enough to paint a word picture for his audience — a word picture that was more than adequate to conjure a mind’s eye view of what occurred to this poor gymnast.

And yet. There it began. The vocal outcry of the offended masses culled from the cream of our society. “Where’s the video!?” asked one. “Why’d you guys take it down?” whined another. “Someone needs to re-post on YouTube or something, man!” decried one technologically clever soul. “Really, you’re not going to show it!?” demanded one particularly impatient individual.  As you might imagine the comments and discussion only went downhill from there.

The conversation kind of devolved into the equivalent of an incessantly whining toddler throwing an ever-growing tantrum because you turned off his beloved Teletubbies. Yet it wasn’t their whining or incredibly childish gore-filled demand for the video that bothered me, although that was bad enough, it was the “why” behind their communal outrage.

In fact, I dare you to look around on YouTube at what some of these like-minded…people…are watching these days. Live fights between young pregnant women, people getting hit by cars, animals being tortured, and a number of less than “innocent” sadistic pranks. Oh, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

It continues to beg the question, what the hell is wrong with our society? Why are we obsessed with violence and inundated with the demand to see other living, breathing beings suffer? Is it funny for some people, or is it just some sick urge even they don’t understand? Either way I really do worry for the future sometimes. We seem to be barreling towards the extreme southern district of the afterlife a lot faster than originally forecast with no hand-basket in sight.

They’re Only Dogs

I don’t know if I should waste the time writing about what may not even technically be “journalism” based on the warped or altogether absent logic presented in the writer’s argument, but I can’t let such a horrendously out of touch article slip by without saying something. Please read the inane ramblings of Adrian MacNair.

I don’t know how much back story I need to give but here are the nuts and bolts of a dog killer’s cruel and bizarre voyage to prison.

This dog walker, Emma Paulsen, left a bunch of dogs in her truck for god knows how long. That should be the first sign that she shouldn’t be taking care of dogs in the first place. It’s one of the cardinal rules when traveling with a pet. Anyway…long story short—shocker!—they all died from heat stroke. All of them. This little fact leads me to assume that she was gone for a very long time. It’s not like they all died at the exact same second. It must have taken time for all six dogs to languish from overheating.

So what does a kind, caring soul like Ms. Paulsen decide to do at the sight of a pile of dead dogs in her truck? She dumps them all in a ditch and reports to the police that they had been stolen. Yup, we have a real animal lover here, folks. She led on the local authorities and the owners, giving them all hope that, maybe, sometime soon, their beloved animals would return safely. All the while she knew they were decomposing in a hole outside of town. This ruse lasted for a week until she finally fessed up and admitted that she had killed them and hid the bodies. Charges were filed and she ended up sentenced to six months in prison among other reprimands.

You know me. You know how much I love animals. Throwing her in prison for a brief stint seems like a real “no effing duh!” outcome. All too often animal cruelty laws are ignored and enforcement is minimal if not nonexistent. Add in the whole filing a false report, lying to police, etc., and the charges make sense. I was glad to see something come of this case.

Then I read the article by Adrian MacNair that left me in utter disbelief. You think Paulsen’s crime isn’t such a big deal just because they’re dogs? What kind of twisted logic is that?

Let me just look at this from a cold, legal standpoint. If you take away the emotional connection, the sentimentality, and the intangibles of pet ownership, a dog is still property. If I bought or adopted the dog, took it in, gave it a place to live, have a license for it, blah blah blah, it is technically something that I own. Now substitute a dog for any other piece of property people own. Let’s say cars. If this woman had completely totaled six peoples’ cars, messed with evidence, filed a false police report and lied to police, she’d be expected to go to jail for that, right? It doesn’t matter how much the item cost or how easily it can be replaced.  The foundational principle here is that it’s another person’s stuff and people can’t just destroy it without consequence. I’m no lawyer but I’m pretty sure that’s the way it works.

And I’m willing to bet good money that MacNair would agree with me on that particular analogy.  Now, in addition to those facts above, add back in the emotional investment which can’t be measured and try to tell me that the bond between a person and their animal doesn’t add intrinsic value.  That’s the part Mr. MacNair apparently can’t wrap his head around.

The sheer callousness in which MacNair views an animal’s life is downright shocking. In one section MacNair writes, “I felt sympathy because Paulsen is going to lose her right to freedom over the death of six animals who, at the end of the day, are essentially inconsequential to this world. Oh yes, I’m sure the dogs were important to the dog owners. That much is clear. But they’re only dogs. And this is a woman’s life we’re talking about. Dogs are easily replaced. If you don’t think that’s true, head down to your local animal shelter. You can grab one for about $350.”

Yes, we all know how much dogs cost. But their price tag does not determine their value. That’s not how connections between living beings work. Try telling a child, crying and inconsolable after his first dog passes, that his beloved friend didn’t mean anything, that it was inconsequential to this world. Those happy memories of them playing in the grass, the lesson the child was learning about how to care for another living creature, the deeply rooted joy given by the dog that will largely help define his happy childhood, you’re telling me that has no impact on the world? If you believe that, you are delusional.

A commenter, Ida Koric, summed it up best by saying, “Your main issue, MacNair, is that you feel that you’ve been granted the right to determine the value of a life. You have dismissed dogs as “just dogs” with absolutely NO logical argument about why the life of a dog, or any animal is meaningless, other than that it appears to be so to your personal view. Guess what? You don’t get to make that decision…”

Amen, Ms. Koric. And hopefully people like MacNair never will have that authority.

If you’re interested, links to the original story about Ms. Paulsen’s actions are below:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/6-missing-dogs-died-in-back-of-langley-dog-walker-s-truck-1.2647705

http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/drama-unfolds-outside-courthouse-as-dog-walker-case-gets-underway-1.2000206

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/emma-paulsen-b-c-dog-walker-gets-jail-time-for-animal-cruelty-1.2935040