The planned light-hearted column about the joy of dogs has been postponed. Instead I’m having to address some of the unfeeling individuals who treat them like toys or tools. Or worse.
Some folks insist on owning designer dogs, perhaps to parade them at shows like The Westminster or Crufts. Imagine if we humans were being bred to a standard of perfection. Oh wait, Hitler tried it. And inbreeding comes with its own problems anyway.
There are degrees of cruelty; begin with the least offensive:
1. A dog shouldn’t have to do tricks for food or even for treats. It’s degrading. Do you make your children roll over and play dead to get dinner? Maybe go fetch their own breakfast sometimes, but nothing more demeaning.
2. Having “inside” and “outside” dogs is unfair and unfeeling. What, like house or garden furniture? You shower love and tidbits on one while treating the other like livestock? Think he doesn’t notice?
3. Tying your dog up, whether or not on a “run” shows the same insensitivity. Some homes keep two outside dogs, a front pooch and a back pooch. In New York tethering your dog outside for more than three hours in any 12 is a criminal offense.
4. Pickup pups make a statement about the driver. Hauling your hound around like a piece of freight makes you the real tough guy, huh. “Muh dawg is muh accessory, stay clear of that tool box he’s guardin’. He’s a mean one. He might bite you.”
4a. I’ve even seen a dog on a flatbed in heavy traffic, forced to scramble for his life at every curve to avoid sliding off.
5. Junkyard mutts lap up the sweet-tasting antifreeze leaking from engines. When that poison kills them their owners just shrug and get another one.
6. Puppy mills are hell with bitches bred to death in abject squalor. We should never buy from them nor from the pet stores they supply. Instead welcome a shelter animal into your home.
7. There are sick and vicious individuals who’ll shoot a dog just for stepping onto their property. I have a neighbor like that; another is country singer Travis Tritt.
8. Those who torture animals should be waterboarded. Period.
9. Owners who “gift” their dog to a shelter once the poor creature gets old or infirm. At the very time Lucky needs you the most his luck runs out. He’s dumped.
9a. Some of these – I can hardly bring myself to call them “people” – then go right out and get a younger dog. They trade-in old for new just like you would a car.
10. Dogfighting fans should be thrown to the wolves. In Georgia it’s a felony, first offence reaping a mandatory $5,000 fine and a year’s incarceration. Some evil Michael Vick types stole two of my neighbor Peggy’s timid pups to be torn apart as “bait” in training pit bulls.
Cannot end this without mentioning the Mitt Romney dog-on-the-roof story that’s drawing criticism and disgust, and created the movement Dogsagainstromney.com. Admittedly, this happened in 1983, but his son Tagg discussed it more recently and this election year Romney himself has been desperate to stifle it.
Answering ABC-TV Diane Sawyer’s question would he do it again: “Certainly not - not with the attention it’s received.” His wife Ann adding: “The dog loved it.” Loved being turned into luggage, made sick and then forced to endure a repeat dose of this cruelty. Yeah, he “loved it”.
That’s who these people are, the Romneys. For those who missed it, here again is what happened:
Seamus the Irish setter was the family pet accompanying them the 12 hours to their annual summer retreat by Lake Huron. But not inside their Chevvy station wagon - no sir. Seamus was placed in a crate and strapped to the roof. He was scared poopless. When diarrhea began dripping down the windows and doors Romney found the next gas station, hosed down dog and car and continued on. Seamus, wet and shivering, was placed back on the roof for a further six hours of terror.
Judging from their responses the Romneys still today don’t realize the sheer icy callousness of what they did. His sole concern was that the story had gotten out. She simply... lied. No other word for it. They didn’t even offer a phony apology.
Mitt says he gave Seamus to his sister to live out an idyllic life in the country (the usual pastoral fable, spun to the flute of the William Tell Overture, 3rd movement). But at the time two of his sons gave reporters a wholly different version: they said as soon as they got to their destination the traumatized dog ran away.
We should all run away from the cold-hearted Romneys of this world.
Animal cruelty must be reported. Let the police know you’ll continue checking on the situation to ensure the perps are indeed prosecuted. Write a short report for the county commissioners and keep a copy. Swear out a warrant and ask your vet to provide expert opinion: this can make an enormous difference..
The degree of disdain I hold for the above bastards is commensurate with the amount of heartlessness or cruelty each of them exercises.
So that’s my list of nasty individuals for whom I hope there’ll be a special messy corner in Hell where they step in dog doo-doo for all eternity. With both feet. And no shoes on.