Thursday, August 26, 2010

It's Only a Dog's Life

Second chance for Sarge
That's the headline on an editorial in today's Toledo Blade ("One of America's Great Newspapers," according to it's tagline, a claim which becomes mathematically closer to being true as papers fold and competition decreases).  Sarge, for those of you not in Northwest Ohio, is a German shepherd.  It is alleged that while Sarge was in a cage, Lawrence Mick and Adam Collins took turns shooting the dog.  Sarge survived, Mick and Collins were prosecuted.
Sarge, it turns out, is a biter.  It's said that he bit both Mick and Mick's girlfriend.  He apparently bit both the vet and the head trainer at the Humane Society.  A special team of veterinarians was brought in to evaluate Sarge.  They concluded that he was too dangerous to adopt him out, too dangerous to live.  So  Sarge would be killed.
They would call it euthanized.  The process?  He gets a lethal injection.  It is, literally, the death penalty.
But wait!  Sarge is a dog.  People charge to the rescue.  In this case, the Best Friends Animal Society stepped in.  The Blade editorial explains.
The hope is that after working with the staff there, he will give up his biting and snapping ways and be adopted out to a new family. If he can't, if the trauma is too great, he will be able to live out the remainder of his life at the sanctuary.
You don't have to be an animal lover to get all warm and fuzzy over this.  It's a lovely story, and you should smile and feel good when you read it.  But that's not why I'm prattling on about it.  What got me to write this is the editorial's next paragraph.
The violence of the attack on a helpless animal in a cage shocked many people. It heightened awareness of the cruelty animals sometimes face, and garnered sympathy for a dog that under other circumstances might have been discarded as incapable of rehabilitation.
The Blade is an ardent supporter of the death penalty.  (Perhaps oddly, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, it's sister paper, has long opposed state killing.)  Bad background?  History of abuse?  So what?  Strap 'em to the gurney.
Unless, it turns out, it's a dog of which we speak.  Second chance? Rehabilitation? If not, life in a sanctuary.
People are not animals.  It's not exactly hypocrisy.  But it's close enough to make you shake your head.  And of course, it's not just the Blade.  That garnering sympathy, that public outcry for Sarge, we could use a bit of that for humans, too.

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