This is a hard story for me to write, but it needs to be told.
Sometimes you hear things and while they shock you in their severity, they don’t fully hit you until you experience it for yourself. I have two rescue pit bull mixes. While we definitely need to have the conversation about dogfighting and pit bulls, I’ll spare you that conversation for now.
Dog fighting is a mess. I make that statement and I fully realize that it falls short of conveying what dog fighting really is, but how do you assign words to something so horrific when words alone cannot make anyone understand what it truly entails? Nonetheless, I’m going to try today in this piece. Here goes. Full disclosure, it won’t be pretty, but for the sake of this little puppy and others like him read on and then do something, anything to stop the madness.
Last night I was scrolling through A Second Chance’s foster page and came across a video of an adorable black and white puppy. I turned up the sound and listened. The unidentified woman holding his leash was cooing to him and he was all waggles and gratitude, circling her, handing out puppy kisses and behaving like the 3 month old ball of love that puppies are.
And then I read the caption above the video:
“This pup is coming 5/20 but has a foster. I show you this to fill you in on his back story. Another Alabama sad story. He is a 3-month-old lab mix. His ignorant bitch of an owner was listing him on a private FB page “Free. Can be used as a bait dog.” My rescue friend in AL is trying to get a screen shot of the post. He is safe now.”
The screenshot of the post reads:
“Anybody want a puppy? Lab.Free.Idc (I don’t care) if you use him as a bait dog at this point.”
The responses that aren’t blacked out read:
“What he lookin like”
“No perhaps a picture.”
Process this for a minute; someone is willing to hand over this puppy to someone else, knowing that he will then throw him into a ring with other dogs who were raised to practice tearing this puppy to shreds, so they can tear each other to shreds later on, while others watch, cheer and bet on outcomes. The “I don’t care at this point,” line means that this person can’t feel the pain and suffering of being mauled to death, or, she does and doesn’t care.
If you have any sense of decency and even half an ounce of compassion, this should rock you to your core. There are so many unanswered questions, but the one I need to have answered is this, “How do advertise a sentient being on FB and then put it out there that you’re OK with him being tortured to death?” It can’t be possible that someone is filled with that much pure evil.
I can peel back the many layers of this onion to try and unravel how we got here, but it would take countless pages and I’m sure, sadly, that I would lose many readers. I can give you the history of dogfighting, but again, many of you would just scroll away. I could tell you how we, as humans have a moral obligation to be the caretakers of the animals that we domesticated for our own selfish needs, but you’d yawn and turn away. So what I am going to do is tell you how you can make a difference.
One night during Intake, I was standing next to Dr. Stuart Fox of the River Bridge Animal Clinic. He is one of the veterinarians for A Second Chance Rescue. We had about 60 animals on the transport from Alabama, and after an exhausting three hours of inoculating, deworming and handing puppies over to fosters, I asked him how there could be so many unwanted animals. I opined that I thought spaying and neutering was the solution and while he agreed, he said EDUCATION was the way to go.
Agreed. If we can get into the grammar and middle schools and tell the stories and explain how a simple procedure can make a difference in the numbers of abandoned companion animals, things would start to change. The future lies in the hands of our children.
If we can teach children that the puppy chained to a tree in their back yard deserves better, then maybe this kind of horror ends.
If we can show that an animal isn’t a piece of property, but a sentient being, then maybe they stand a chance.
If the kid next door realizes that the mamma dog under the porch needs to have heartworm treatment in order to live a long life, then we stand a chance at fixing the abandoned animal epidemic.
If there are fewer abandoned animals, then dogfighters don’t have access to bait dogs.
Good friends of mine adopted a puppy from A Second Chance Rescue. I was thrilled because they had previously bought some majorly expensive purebreds. They made a generous donation beyond the adoption fee. They balked at the neutering part because they wanted the dog to “develop to its fullest potential,” and believed that neutering stunted growth. While I’ve heard that argument before, since I’m neither a vet nor a scientist I can’t fully argue that, but I did explain to them that neutering is non- negotiable at ASCR and they understood.
A few weeks later their 11-year-old daughter was telling me how much she loved their new puppy but that he had to go for neutering and she didn’t understand why. She said that she only owned male dogs in the house and that little puppy would never get loose…..when I told her about the 6.5 million dogs and cats that enter shelters and that 1.5 are euthanized, she asked me what euthanize means. Not wanting to traumatize someone else’s kid ( I have my own kids for that), I gave her the abridged version but didn’t sugar coat it either. She said nothing for a while and then said, “I understand now.” She wants to come to the adoption days and help with intake. She said something that brought me to tears, “I want to be like you guys when I’m an adult.” If only we could get more children to understand.
In the meantime, what can you do? People tell me all the time that it must feel like fighting a losing battle and some days it does. I told my friend Mark about the FB puppy and he said, “Your passion must end with many disappointments.” It does, but it’s the victories like this little black and white lab that keeps us going.
We all need to take action, because while this is a “feel good story” ( the puppy was saved,) I can only feel good for a split second. I’m haunted by the thought of all the others that we didn’t catch on FB, or on Craig’s List or in the rural mountains of AL, or on the city streets of Houston. This must stop.
I can’t tell you how many times someone says this to me, “It’s amazing what you guys do. Thank you!” I am now responding with this, “Oh you’re welcome, but what are YOU doing?” It’s going to take all of us stepping out of our comfort zone to make a difference.
Please help us by reposting this blog. (my goal is 200 hundred shares).
Please help us by not buying a dog when you can rescue one.
Please spay and neuter your animals.
Please vote for those politicians, who, like us, don’t view animals as property.
ADOPT. RESCUE. FOSTER. SPAY AND NEUTER.
Thank you all for all YOU do.
Oh, and that little black and white lab mix? He already has multiple applications for adoption. When Karen and I pull him off the transport and handed him overt to his foster family, I will whisper in his ear and say what I say to all the fosters, “Go out and live your best life little one.”
I got a call from the boss at ASCR one afternoon. It read: “Since you took such an interest in that little bait puppy, we’d like for you to name him.”
Disclosure: It takes a lot to make me cry. I sat in front of my computer and I cried. I get to name that little one? Wow. I googled, “strong male dog names,” and while the typical names came up, Zeus, Rock, Thor….” none of them fit this little one. Somehow, I wound up on baby names and there it was, “Benjamin: Hebrew; Son of the South.” It was posted beside a picture of Ben Franklin. And so it was, that a lucky dog from Alabama became Benjamin.
One month later, Benjamin, now Bowie has been adopted by Esme. He is the love of her life, as it should be! Bowie goes to the barn every day, has figured out that horses are cool and that people love him. He will never have to worry about being a bait dog and will live the rest of his life with Esme. Thank you Esme for adopting Bowie. Woof.