Friday, June 5, 2009

A Moral Dilemma

Some of you may have received an e-mail through the listserv yesterday about a guy who lost a beagle-shepherd mix. Here's more about that story. 

Last night, some of us gals were lingering after dark with our dogs, when a white pickup truck came screaming into the parking lot and pulled into a space. A tall, bearded guy in a white shirt and shorts bounded out of the vehicle and into the Park. Our dogs tore after him in full defense mode. The guy's reaction was to wave his arms in the air and hop around. After we got everyone calmed down and rounded up and apologized for the fuss, the guy told us that he was there looking for his dog, the beagle mix that got out of his yard.  We told him that we had not seen that dog, but we had saved the e-mail with his contact information. He thanked us and then decided to walk the Park in the dark anyway. 

So here are the unsettling things: 
1) The guy still has not told anyone his name or the dog's name.
2) The guy came to look for his dog in the dark, without a flashlight, and while holding a half-eaten sandwich.
3) Our dogs definitely did not like the guy. Despite his sandwich and the fact that they had been reprimanded for chasing him, they went after him again when he returned to his truck a few minutes later. 
4) I have witnessed that guy physically abuse his dog at the Dog Park. 
I've only seen him once before—in daylight a couple  of weeks ago, but I already had a name for him: Jesus Guy. He has long dark hair and a beard. When I first saw him, he was carrying a long, wooden staff. I was standing by the water bucket, and the dog, which looks like Keith's Charlie with shorter legs, stopped at the low, blue bowl for a drink. It was a hot day. But Jesus Guy didn't want the dog to drink, and after the dog continued to drink despite his commands to stop, the guy bent over and, with one hand, picked the dog up by the scruff of the neck and tossed him away from the water. I said, "It's okay. Anyone can drink from that bowl." But Jesus ignored me. Then, as they walked away, any time the dog stopped to sniff or pee, Jesus Guy poked him with the end of his staff. 

So: Moral dilemma. If I found the dog today, would I return him to Jesus Guy? Would you? Is a dog better off in a shelter or roaming the streets than in an abusive home? It's a tough call. After hearing my story last night, one gal speculated that perhaps the beagle had been "helped" to escape.

There used to be a guy who lived in a house bordering the Park—the one with the pool, a couple houses west of Crazy Guy. He kept a Wiemaraner chained to a dog house in that yard. The dog got no exercise nor any attention that we could see. Every day, people would go up to the fence to sneak him treats and say soft things to him. He would occasionally escape into the Park, and well-meaning Parkers would return him to an ungrateful owner. This went on for months. Then one day, a friend of mine reached through the fence, unhooked his chain, opened the gate, and took him away. He's had a pretty good life since as the friend's ex-boyfriend's dog. Were my friend's actions wrong? Did Parkers do wrong to condone them? Legally, she stole the dog, another person's property. Some folks even gave her money to help cover vet expenses. Did they aid and abet a crime? 

The dog is better off; end of story. Problem: It's so easy for Jesus Guy and the Weimaraner owner to find another dog to neglect or abuse.  

1 comment:

  1. That guy totally freaked me out last night - there is no doubt that his home and being in his presence are awful places to be. Our dogs could sense that right away: BAD MAN.

    Re: liberating dogs, no question that the only thing to do is the *right* thing for the animal. Any animal that is abused or suffering deserves and needs the help of a person to save him/her from that awful fate. I don't care that the law defines dogs as "property." It wasn't that long ago that the very same definition applied to children.


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