I care, and it hurts.
This week brought record setting cold temperatures to much of the country, and a knife of pain and fear and guilt to my gut with each new report of the coming or current cold.
I know dogs are out there suffering and I will fail, DDB will fail, we all will fail to help them.
I care, and I’m angry.
Watching a dog suffer on a chain in warm and sunny weather is bad enough. But knowing dogs are freezing to death as I type these words claws at my insides until I want to scream and cry and take the drastic action that SHOULD BE TAKEN for every single chained, penned, or ‘outside’ dog across this great big nation this very second.
Every dog left outside in the cold to survive the best he/she can—bar none—SHOULD BE IMMEDIATELY REMOVED from the owners who care so little about their suffering and possible death as to nonchalantly go about their lives while the dog struggles to survive.
Every state has cruelty laws on the books, and every single police officer and animal control officer should have enough sense to consider it cruelty if a dog is left outside at 20 degrees or under—whether it’s spelled out word for word in the code or not. We all have brains for a reason—let’s use them.
As one Ohio officer said in this article yesterday, “It is unlawful and generally reprehensible to leave a dog tied outside to a 5-foot chain in 10-degree Fahrenheit temperatures,” Rauzan said.
[Unfortunately, Rauzan is one of the few who thinks that way, but I’m exceedingly grateful for the officers who do know better.]
I care, and I feel helpless.
The truth is no matter how hard I try to get better for the dog, in the end I can’t control what these shitty dog owners do; I can’t control the lawmakers who refuse to pass better laws to protect these precious beings; and I can’t control the police or animal control officer who tells me the dog is ‘fine’ and to mind my own damn business.
I distract myself with work, with play, with housecleaning, with doing what I can to not think about the cold and about the dogs who believe this is all there is to life; an endless struggle to survive something it’s not in their nature to survive—life at the end of a chain.
But that’s all they are: distractions.
I help those I can through my work with DDB—plus I feed the birds, stray cats, wild critters, so I can appease my guilt and anxiety and feel like I’m doing something to help struggling animals make it through the harsh winter weather.
I care, and I try not to shut down.
A wave of pain hits me, and I struggle not to close myself off from the world, which is really what I want to do. I don’t want to be part of a world that believes in any way, shape, or form that it’s ok to treat ANY living being this way, let alone the one being aptly tagged as ‘Man’s Best Friend.’
Dogs are our best friends because they are needy, sometimes embarrassingly so. Our dog Sloan, for example—rescued from a chain—immediately shoves his head between the legs of total strangers as his way of showing submissiveness and asking for their attention. (Why a simple shake won’t do is beyond me. And no, he’s not taking a whiff. He’s actually shoving his head in a place he has no business being. Awkward!)
Dogs NEED people, they need pack, and they need MORE than life as lawn ornaments.
I care, and am villainized for it.
I’ve cared about chained dogs since I was a little girl and we had one in our own backyard, but I started doing something about this cruel treatment of Man’s Best Friend in 2002.
Before I started Dogs Deserve Better, I never knew the extent to which I’d be villainized, cast as the demon, made out to be the bad guy. I’m still confused by it.
I was called “Worse than his worst hardened criminal” [really, WORSE than a murderer?] by a district attorney in PA because I refused to return a dog who could no longer stand after being chained for 13 years.
I’ve been ‘punished’ four times by the legal system for taking a stand on behalf of a suffering dog—most recently fined $50 because I VERBALLY defended a dog on a too-short tether and owned by a convicted child molester. I publicized the abuse online and got the police and humane officer hundreds of phone calls about the dog. They reciprocated by charging me instead of the dog abuser.
I refuse the pay the fine, and now there will be a warrant forthcoming for my arrest, but I don’t care. I will NEVER pay that fine, even if I spend the rest of my life in jail. If it’s my last act of defiance for a system that protects abusers and punishes caring citizens, then I will make it have meaning for myself and those who come after me.
EACH AND EVERY TIME I have personally photographed and publicized crimes of abusive chaining, the animal abusers have gotten NOTHING. NOTHING. NOTHING.
NOTHING. NOTHING. NOTHING. NOTHING.
What kind of message are we sending in this country? Abusers are fine and dandy, but people with hearts, souls, and eyes to see the cruelty RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM are demons?
What. The. Hell.
I care, but I’m tired.
In the beginning, I felt all alone in this fight. I vowed to take the stand whether I stood alone or not. Today I’m proud to say there are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people standing with me.
There are at least 30-40 other groups solely dedicated to chained dogs now, whereas when I started there was only us, only Dogs Deserve Better.
It’s ok for me to be tired now. I did my share, I suffered for chained dogs, hopefully more than any other activist will have to, and now we have strength in numbers.
The tide is turning, and SOON, SOON, SOON the police and the animal control and the lawmakers will see that the shift has been made. The people are speaking up, the people are speaking out, and the people are done tolerating the abuse of our best friends.
What we are collectively doing through the use of social media is changing this country, and I for one couldn’t be happier about it. Abusers can’t hide as well these days, and law officers who fail to do their jobs on behalf of the animals are outed for it on a daily basis.
We helped publicize a case through our Facebook page this week, and the dog was at least taken inside for the night. We’ve been told police are searching for the person who took the video, because as usual they seek to villainize the person speaking out against the abuse, but I hope they are never able to find and punish the person with the courage to take the video and make it public.
I care, and I always will.
Even though I will soon be saying my goodbyes as Director of Dogs Deserve Better, that doesn’t mean I will turn my heart off or stop suffering when I know the dogs are suffering. I wish I could, but I know I can’t and I won’t.
I will still suffer in the winter along with everyone else who cares, and I will still make the phone calls and raise a stink online with the rest of our supporters.
It just means I know that it’s time for our organization to have a fresh start, a fresh and dedicated and undamaged soul at the helm to continue the fight for chained dogs on our behalf.
I am excited and looking forward to the future for Dogs Deserve Better, and for myself. I don’t know what my next chapter will hold, but I believe I can leave knowing I gave it my all. I gave my whole heart, my whole soul, and my whole life to the chained dogs for 12.5 years.
And I guess that has to be enough.
P.S. See my previous blogs if you are trying to get help for a chained dog near you.