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I believe one person (or two) can make a difference

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Some people look out their office windows and see high rises, maybe a school yard, a Zen garden or something as grand as Lake Superior. Some people don’t have an office window and are now cursing me for pouring salt in THAT wound. But I’ve recently realized that sometimes a windowless office might be the way to go. In my case, the window I’m bestowed overlooks neglect. Insidious, not on anyone’s radar, animal neglect.

He’s a Siberian Husky. A puppy, mind you, but a puppy that probably weighs 80 or 90 pounds and could look me in the eyes if he stood up tall. Unfortunately, he could never stand up tall. In fact, until recently, he could only make about three paces in any direction because of his cramped cage that might have made a FINE home for a gerbil. But NEVER a Siberian Husky. Never an animal that wouldn’t be taken out on occasion for a walk around the yard, a tiny stretch of the legs every now and then.

This winter I and a co-worker have had the privilege of sitting across the alley from Mr. Husky for sometimes twelve hours at a time between the two of us. We quickly realized that the owners were kind enough to feed Mr. Husky, but that was as far as their kindness spanned. Between 6 AM and 6 PM, the dog was completely alone… maybe more than that, but we never worked earlier than six or later than six.

In this time period, Mr. Husky spent the majority of his time pacing back and forth in a way that would make me hyperventilate a little if I watched for too long. He’d bark and carry on with sheer excitement when his food was brought out in the morning, but Feeder Lady never touched him. She never spoke to him. She never let him out, and she certainly didn’t go in. It was all very solitary-confinement prison-style you’re-SO-in-trouble feeding.

The sheriff’s office was called because we wanted to know — What do you consider animal abuse and/or neglect, anyway? Well. Not that, they basically said. There’s food, after all. Even shelter. Sure, his water bowl was frozen solid, but temperatures dive down into the negative double-digits, man. What do you expect?

We’re near a highway, so the highway patrol was called. Because maybe they had a different opinion. Evidently not. We can assume this because the dog was still there the next day. And the next. And the next. Still in that laundry basket of a cage.

My co-worker started jotting notes… January 23: Mr. Husky kills a bird that was trying to eat from his food bowl. He plays with the dead crow for the remainder of the day. His small cage is now littered with 50 pounds of feces, 20 ounces of feathers, and half a foot of snow. February 1: He’s no longer pacing. In fact, he doesn’t come out of his doghouse anymore. He seems ill.

We called the animal welfare clinic. But because the dog was getting fed and had shelter, they just couldn’t go in with their big guns. So a representative knocked on Feeder Lady’s door and offered to buy the dog. But they wouldn’t give it up for anything under $900. Unfortunately, that was out of the clinic’s budget.

A local vet was called and, while they agreed something should be done, they had no suggestions outside of criminal behavior which, OF COURSE, they didn’t condone.

We thought we’d have to resort to boarding up our window so as not to see him die slowly, to wear ear plugs so as not to hear him cry, to take anger management classes so as not to get fired. And then finally. Today. Things changed. He has been given a larger cage. It’s no Taj Mahal, but now Mr. Husky might be able to make about six paces in any direction instead of three. And, while he’s still getting treated like he’s got a bad case of leprosy, they opened up the cage and let him run around the back yard for about fifteen minutes. AND he’s wearing a collar like a real pet. AND his old wooden house that he’d chewed to bits has been replaced with a faux igloo.

It’s not fabulous, but it’s improved by leaps and bounds. And I have to believe it’s because of diligence. Because people were coming around and asking to buy a dog that’s only visible through the alley. Maybe because a uniform came over to say, “Hey, have you thought about pretending like you have a pet instead of a prisoner so that the neighbors quit calling?” Whatever the case may be, Mr. Husky’s been given some reprieve, unlike many, many other neglected pets out there.

I hope it lasts.

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  • comment avatar Ana March 4, 2008

    I am so glad there are people like you out there! What a stirring story and it makes me want to move to action as well!

  • comment avatar Kim March 4, 2008

    Oh my gosh, it makes me cry to read about animal abuse. Neglect and lack of exercise is a form of abuse. Why bother having a pet if you don’t even pay attention to it?

    Thank goodness you stepped in and helped to increase the dog’s quality of life. Rock on!

  • comment avatar Catherine March 4, 2008

    Thanks, guys. 🙂 I wish I could do more for that dog… without ending up in jail.

  • comment avatar Heidi March 5, 2008

    What I can’t believe is they would not sell the dog for under $900. Sounds like they were just trying to make a buck, especially since they obviously have no emotional attachment to the poor thing.

  • comment avatar Kari March 5, 2008

    I can’t believe they couldn’t do more for this poor dog. Especially a Husky should be allowed to run and play freely. Such a sad story and I am glad you stepped in!

  • comment avatar diana/sunshine March 6, 2008

    this saddens me to where my heart breaks. i can’t even imagine treating a dog like that. and i couldn’t have watched it on a daily basis.

    thanks you for doing all you can. i’m sure the husky would thank you, too, if he could.

  • comment avatar Lizzy March 6, 2008

    Good for you. It is amazing what people are willing to change when they think that someone is looking. I feel so bad for that poor dog. It is one of the reason we don’t have a dog yet. I want a big dog, but big dogs require big space and we don’t have that yet.

  • comment avatar Turtle March 8, 2008

    Thank you so much for helping this poor pup out. I would be sick having to watch that every day. I can’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t be illegal to keep a dog in those conditions (feces in the cage). Back when I had cable I used to occasionally watch the animal cops (ASPCA, I think?) and it seemed they were able to intervene in to those types of situations, but I think that was in NY.

    Anyway, I’m glad this pup has at least one person who cares.

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