Someone dropped a dog off at our church yesterday morning sometime before our service began.
The dog was elderly, and filthy; one eye was milky with a cataract, while the other was red and inflamed; tumors hung from her belly, and one was angry and ulcerated. She could barely move; she lay shivering on the ground.
This is one of those times when my intellectual appreciation for the principle of nonviolence goes right out the window. If the owner of the dog had been standing there, I would have kicked his ass. And, actually, that sentiment was expressed by several of us, this week before the arrival of the Prince of Peace.
Our friend M, a dog lover, stood weeping over the animal while a few of the parish teenagers debated taking the dog home. Finally M wrapped the dog in a blanket and carried her into her vehicle, while Fellow Traveler moved M's dog, an exciteable border collie pup, into our dog-intensive Jeep.
There was a suspicion that a certain chaotic household at the end of the road was the dog's home. M and Fellow Traveler drove there; the homeowner denied that the dog was his, but a next-door neighbor told them that it was. But there was nothing that could be done; they came back, where the service had already begun, with the sick old dog still in M's car.
After church, we (plus our dogs, plus M's dog) followed M back to her house, a meandering trek that took us way into another county. There we let our pets run off their nervous energy while M and I alternately coaxed and pulled the moribund dog into a dog crate lined with blankets, with water and food. M was going to call her county's animal control office and try to get someone to come there that day and put the dog down in a humane way.
I have to say, I don't know what to do with situations like this. What pathology makes people want to possess an animal, yet neglect an animal to this degree? Even if cost were an issue -- in our county people are charged for dropping off a pet to be euthanized -- in the rural area around our church there are plenty of farmers and hunters with a .22 handy who would have helped the dog take the long walk in a quick and relatively painless way. But no.
Fellow Traveler told the weeping M that at least the dog's last hours would be spent with kind, caring people, and that that was something.