Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Buddy


As far as I know, he has no name. At least I’ve never heard anyone call him by one. So I call him “Buddy”. His story probably isn’t national newsworthy. He hasn’t suffered beatings. He hasn’t been burned with fire or chemicals. He wasn’t mutilated or dragged behind a car. But to me, his story is no less important. His solitary life of silent misery is the result of human callousness, and the failure of my community, its leaders and yes, us residents, to insist on stronger anti-cruelty laws and anti-tethering legislation. As a result, Buddy’s life consists of a roughly 10-foot circle at the base of an old tree at the end of a heavy bull-chain that is padlocked to a thick leather collar buckled tightly around his neck. Under his feet is dirt, trash and various items of other debris. His only relief from extremes of weather – snow, ice, rain, wind, heat, humidity – and insects such as fleas, ticks and biting flies is a makeshift doghouse and whatever shade is provided by the tree supporting his chain. He is underweight, with his ribs clearly visible, and hipbones and shoulder blades prominent. The only nourishment I am certain he receives is the dog cookies I offer him. There is an old bucket next to his doghouse that I hope has water in it, but the bucket is often overturned as a result of Buddy’s bull chain dragging across it. So I tried to help during this current heat wave by lowering another bucket over the fence and filling it with my own water hose.

My husband and I have made efforts to contact Buddy’s owners, but no one appeared to be home, so we left a note to let them know we gave Buddy some water since his was empty. When we got no response, I called Animal Control who referred me to the Wake Forest Police who referred me to the Wake County Sheriff who referred me back to Animal Control. I was initially told since it was after 5 p.m., they would only respond to emergencies and apparently a chained dog in 100 degree temperatures with no water did not constitute an emergency?!?!?!?!  I called again on July 4th after still getting no response from the owner to our note, and after noticing blood on Buddy’s head. Finally, an Animal Control officer did arrive at Buddy’s home. Apparently by this time, the owner was home. After talking with the owner, the officer came to my house to let me know what was going on. This is where I realized how woefully inadequate our animal protection laws are, and to be honest, I felt very sorry for the officer as my gut told me he really wished he could rescue Buddy from his miserable life but didn’t have the legal right to do so.

I feel like I failed Buddy by not calling to report the owner to Animal Control previously, as now this was his first offense so he basically got a “pass”. I believe the officer did all he could and I do appreciate that. And this is all he could do, since we have essentially tied his hands by not making sure animal welfare is addressed sufficiently in our legal system. This is inexcusable.

The owner has 24 hours to, at a minimum, get a swivel for the chain so Buddy won’t get his tether twisted and tightened. The officer also strongly suggested getting something lighter to tie him with since that bull chain is very likely more than 10% of Buddy’s total weight.

The owner was given a warning for not having Buddy vaccinated for rabies and was instructed to get that done immediately. He was also told to take the dog to a vet for treatment of multiple head and neck wounds due to a severe flea infestation and resultant excessive scratching.

The owner was told that Buddy had to have clean water accessible to him at ALL TIMES 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

The officer said Buddy was to have sufficient food. He did mention to me that “there was food on the property” and sadly that is all the law currently requires, but fails to address the problem that that does not mean the dog is actually RECEIVING any of that food. Ridiculous. Also, the officer said although Buddy was clearly undernourished, he wasn’t “skinny enough yet” to be considered neglected. Again, ridiculous. You can easily see every rib, and the hips and shoulders are extremely prominent.

The officer asked us to keep an eye on Buddy and to call him back if any of the above conditions were not addressed, and I will absolutely do that. But I believe we as a society and our entire system have failed this poor dog. Look at this picture and tell me honestly that this is any kind of life for a sentient, living being whose only desire is to be Man’s Best Friend. I know my own heart is breaking into a million pieces, and I will do everything in my power to get laws established to redefine animal cruelty and prevent the perpetual tethering of dogs. It is up to us to stop tying the hands of our animal control officers and give them the capability to help those who cannot help themselves.

Apparently our lawmakers think this is a dog who is "okay". I, for one, DO NOT think there is anything "okay" about this in any way, shape or form, and I will not rest until our laws are changed. Will you help?
Our Lawmakers Think This is "Okay"?!?