By ROBERT JUMPER
One Feather Editor
A friend, many years ago, lost a Yorkie that she had from a pup. She had left it at home while she worked and when she got home, the dog was gone. The “how” of its disappearance is a mystery. It may have somehow got outside (for those of you who are unfamiliar with the breed, Yorkshire Terriers are very petite dogs that you wouldn’t leave outside on purpose). There was no evidence to provide clues as to what happened to the pup. One theory is, since my friend lives in a relatively remote neighborhood, that the dog wandered too far from the protection of the home and may have been killed and carried off by a predator, like a hawk or coyote. Yorkies are not much bigger than a rabbit and would certainly not be as fast as a bunny, and being a domesticated animal, the pup may not have had enough instinctual fear to flee from a predator.
Another possibility is that someone saw the Yorkie outside alone and took the opportunity to steal her. The dog was a pure bread Yorkshire. Pedigreed Yorkie pups average starting purchase prices are about $1,050. One website estimated, “The average price for a high-quality Yorkie puppy from a reputable and responsible breeder can range between $500 and $4,000.”
That is a pretty big temptation and easy pickings for, say, someone who might need quick cash for a drug purchase. It isn’t a big stretch of the imagination to consider that a person who would abuse and steal from their own family might see a small, valuable little dog wandering alone as nothing more than a bundle of quick income waiting to be collected and cashed in. The popularity of the breed would make converting a little Yorkie into easy money a task of little to no effort.
My friend was, as you can imagine, emotionally devastated at the loss of her “fur baby”. As most pet owners will attest, they feel like their pets are much more. Many even count them as family members and give them status far above most other domesticated animals. Some owners get offended at the use of the word “animal” when referencing their unique furry family member. My friend and her family did an extensive search, posted, and advertised lost pup posters with reward, but to no avail. The little dog was never recovered and the truth of what happened to it will likely never be known.
Recently, I was making my routine journey over Soco Mountain on my way to work. There in the flat straight into Cherokee on Soco road, I saw two ladies on the side of the road. As I drew closer to these ladies, I could see that they were obviously upset and crying. They kept walking out into the middle of one lane and, when traffic approached their location, they would move off to the side of the road, hold each other and cry until they could move back out onto the highway. On closer observation, I could see that these ladies had a cloth or bag in their hands, and they appeared to be trying to gather the remains of a dead animal from the road. It was a sad scene, I am not sure what kind of animal had been killed in the road and I am not sure what relationship was between the ladies and this animal, but it was obvious that its death had caused these ladies much grief.
Cherokee Animal Control, Cherokee Dog Sanctuary Inc., and many other organizations are working to make life better and safer for domesticated animals in our community. One of the biggest threats to the animal population is overpopulation. Animal Control’s message has been consistent and emphatic. We must spay and neuter our pets to help their individual health and the health of the community’s pet population. There will be fewer scenes of senseless, heartbreaking roadkill when we do our part in reducing the stray population through the consistent practice of spay and neuter in our community. Most folks I know have a heart and desire to see fewer strays and fewer stays in shelters. We all must do our part.
Enforcement of our animal cruelty laws is a must in the fight for a better quality of life for owners and pets. There are minimal standards that have been placed in law by our society to protect the rights of domesticated animals, including those that share our homes and yards. It has long been a puzzling thing to me that people would spend the time and effort to acquire a pet and then mistreat it to death. When I kept dogs, I felt a personal responsibility to ensure that these living things got proper treatment. And as I grew in relationship to my dogs, my desire increased to not only caring for their needs, but also to give them their wants. Personally, I think it takes a sick mind to mistreat an animal. And psychologists seem to agree.
According to an article titled The Link Between Animal Cruelty and Domestic Violence, “Domestic violence offenses not only occur in an intimate partner setting but often occur simultaneously or are precursors to other types of violent offenses. Animal cruelty is a predicator of current and future violence, including crimes of assault, rape, murder, arson, domestic violence, and sexual abuse of children. For example, the majority of interpersonal violence victims who report co-occurring animal cruelty are also concerned the abuser eventually will kill them and should be considered at extremely high risk of suffering severe injury or death.”
Like cruelty to humans, animal cruelty goes far beyond direct physical beating and torture. Neglect is a major form of dog cruelty. Incidents of chaining and then leaving animals without maintenance-food, water, companionship, clean space are common in animal cruelty cases. We have all seen the video and pictures from the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) of mother dogs and puppies matted in feces and urine, having been locked in small cages or boxes and left with minimal provisions for days, weeks, and months. Scenes of dogs that have been chained for so long that their collars grow into their necks and cut off their ability to breathe. Pictures of the paw pads of animals left in concrete and asphalt lots in summer heat where the pads of their paws have been burned down to the bone. And video of dogs and cats in lots in the winter, left to freeze to death by people who should not be allowed to ever purchase or keep pets.
Dogs in particular are naturally pack animals and companionship is essential to their wellbeing. When you acquire a dog, they naturally adopt you as their “pack”. You are their family. It is why you see them become defensive of you and your home. It is instinctual. It is also why dogs will continue to seek love and companionship from someone who beats and neglects them.
Being kind and loving to your own pet is not enough. I know we don’t enjoy getting into someone else’s personal affairs, but sometimes it is necessary to stop suffering and prevent death. When you see someone who is cruel to animals, report it. When you see strays on the side of the road, let Animal Control or the Dog Sanctuary know, or better yet, if you can capture the animal, do so and take it to either organization. You may even discover a quick affection for your rescue and decide to add it to your pack.
Most anyone who has loved and experienced the love of a pet will tell you it is a bittersweet journey. Dogs and cats, in fact most animals, are long outlived by their owners. So, as a pet owner, you are likely to experience their passing, which for most of us, is a heartbreaking experience. I have often said and believe that God gives us pets to teach us unconditional love, because once they accept you as their own, dogs, and most other pets love you whether you love them or not. I believe we have a duty, and obligation, to provide care and to prevent cruelty wherever we can.