Within minutes of talking to me, it is fairly obvious that I am an animal lover and take great joy in spending time with my two dogs, Dexter and Luca. In fact, it very well might be my favorite thing to do.
So, in honor of my two great loves, I type this post in memory of Phoenix, a pit bull who lost her life in Baltimore, Brandi, who almost lost her life in Frederick County and all companion animals who have fallen victim to human cruelty or recklessness.
I was saddened the second trial involving the cruel act against Phoenix (soaking her with an accelerant and setting on fire) concluded with a “not guilty” verdict. Don’t get me wrong — I was not gunning for the conviction of the accused twins. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the evidence presented at trial and I am not privy to any inside information from either side.
However, my heart is filled with sadness that this dog had to unnecessarily suffer from the extreme pain of the severe burns on her body. My heart is filled with outrage and frustration that she had to give up her life because someone found it amusing to torture an innocent animal.
In January 2010, Roger and Sandra Jenkins almost lost Brandi to a police officer’s gunshot. The chocolate Labrador retriever bounded toward an officer who arrived at her home to serve a warrant on the Jenkins’ son. Without attempting any alternative actions in response to an allegedly threatening dog, the officer shot Brandi despite the fact that she had ceased moving toward the officer. A Frederick County jury awarded the Jenkinses $620,000 in damages.
And just this Tuesday, a police officer in Texas fatally shot a 7-year old blue heeler named Cisco. The officer was responding to a 911 call involving a fight between a couple but was given the wrong address. He arrived at Michael Paxton and Cisco’s house, which was one door down from the residence involved in the domestic dispute. As in Brandi’s case, the officer shot Cisco because he felt the dog was a threat. He also did not attempt any alternative actions to respond to this alleged threat before deciding to shoot the dog.
Pet parents in the U.S. spend a ridiculous amount of money on their companion animals — $43 billion a year, according to Time magazine in 2009. (This blog provides a breakdown.) If you asked around, most people who have pets would consider them members of their family.
Unfortunately, most animal cruelty laws and laws governing veterinary malpractice or injuries to animals provide minimal rights to these trusted friends. Every time I hear about a thoughtless dog shooting by a police officer, a neighbor trying to poison the dog that lives next door or another report about dogfighting rings, I hold on to hope that all dogs go to heaven, and that we will see greater deterrence through laws across the nation that provide animals with increased rights and protections.
From top: Brandi, left, Cisco and Phoenix