The stories I'm about to share are not unusual, and that's one of the saddest parts. These same incidents happen every day all over the country to untold numbers of innocents. The only way I can begin to understand it is to admit that evil abounds in the world. People can be heartless. Thoughtless. Selfish. With the complexities of human nature, any of us has the capacity for unseemly behavior. But it's a matter of degree, and the people I'm talking about are at the far end of the spectrum.
Last week, I went to the shelter to photograph the new arrivals for their adoption profiles. Beforehand, I walked a few dogs including Nile, a really cool dog with one blue eye and one brown eye. We took a route up and down the street and over to a vacant lot when I noticed he had tags on his collar. I thought that was unusual. When I returned to the office, I asked about his story. I found that he had been adopted in the recent past and just recently returned to the shelter. Sometimes that happens. But the way it happened was very upsetting. He was actually returned to the shelter by a couple of ladies who witnessed his owner dumping him in a discount store parking lot to fend for himself. This broke the agreement that this individual had signed that committed him to return Nile to the shelter if he couldn't keep him for some reason. Instead he chose to put this sweet dog's welfare at risk by dumping him like a piece of garbage.
Not a day or two later, I saw a story from a neighboring town that a German Shepherd puppy had been found alone and scared...in a trash dumpster. Fortunately, through the kindness of a good citizen, the poor little guy was taken to a local shelter in order to find him a good home.
And perhaps you saw the story last week of the $20,000 reward being offered in New York for any information regarding a pit bull that was found alive, stuffed in a suitcase and set out by the curb with the trash. I hope they find the scum who did this.
In any situation like these, there are better options. There are people ready to welcome the unwanted. That these individuals chose to dump vibrant lives in the gutter like an old burger wrapper shows a level of insensitivity and lack of basic decency that is beyond comprehension. It makes me incredibly sad, angry, and bewildered about the state of humanity and the disregard that some peope have for other sentinent beings, whether they are animals or people.
But there is hope. For as many people involved in these stories that did something reprehensible, there were at least as many people who did something heroic and life-saving. And that's the part that I have to concentrate on. If I focus too much on the depravity of individuals, I can get lost in a cloud of negativity that threatens to swallow me up. But if I can focus on what one, two, or a group of us can do in our own small ways to maintain or to raise the level of respect for those who can't defend themselves, then perhaps I can help make a difference. So here's to those who welcome the unwanted. The shelter workers. The social workers. Foster families. Monetary and supply donors. And the host of unsung heroes who work behind the scenes to help support the organizations that work so hard to make life a little better for others.
To all those, I say "thank you" for bringing us hope. It's a gift given from the heart.