Monday, December 18, 2006


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.


chartreuseova said...

I never understand it either and I'm crying as I type.

God bless you all for caring.

Anonymous said...

In England we have the PDSA that provides full vetinary services to anybody who cannot afford to pay vets' fees. We also have, within reach of everybody animal refuges which will only put down animals if they are in pain that cannot be treated, no matter how old they are.

We are not perfect. The RSPCA still destroys animals that they cannot rehome but on the other hand they would have gone into the home you metioned and removed any animals under threat of maltreatment and taken the owners to court.

Tom in Ontario said...

I'm admittedly not a dog person. I'm not much of a pet person actually although we have a couple of cockatiels. But I would have been in on the ass kicking. I can't abide cruelty to anyone or anything and your post made me sad, and glad that you and your friends did care for that poor creature at the end of what must have been a horrible life.

God bless you.

Anonymous said...

I wonder does this household have other animals? children? vulnerable adults?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous' question haunts me.

That and the thought that the last few hours of that poor dog's life may have been the ones in which he received the most attention and love.

The heart breaks.

zorra said...

I never get over this sort of thing, never seem to get toughened to it. (Actually I hope I never do.) Through my tears I am thankful that at least this poor dog's last days were spent with someone who showed her kindness and love.

Anonymous is right. A visit from the SPCA, Children's Protective Services, Adult Protective Services, or all of the above is probably needed.

Reverend Dona Quixote said...

Since cruelty to animals usually is a sign of other kinds of abuse, calling other authorities is probably a very good idea. It's certainly not as satisfying as an ass-kickin', but it might be more effective in the long run.

I'm glad you all were there for that poor animal!

Anonymous said...

Well, MadPriest, here in the US, we don't even get healthcare for humans, never mind animals. Sigh.

LC, what a tragic story. I am so glad, though, that the poor pooch got some loving in her final hours.

Swandive said...

(hug) & +prayers+
For you, for your community and for the one who needs a HUGE kick in the arse. sob.

Sue said...

So sad. I can only echo the other comments about other vulnerable pets and people in that home. It makes my stomach ache just thinking about it.

I'm so glad that the dog had some kindness at the end.

St. Inuksuk said...

Im with you and don't get it either. unless the folks knew, you would extend to their dog what they couldn't. What a grace for that poor pooch to be in such kind, compassionate, merciful hands.