This is Beethoven and his owner. He was a gentle dog that loved children.
All of my life I have been a law-abiding citizen of this county and state. I’ve passed up opportunities to go to other states make more money, because I wanted to be here, dedicating my time and talents to the children of my home region. In my books, I’ve sought to show the world that Kentucky is a good place with good people, but over the course of the past week, I’ve encountered a mind-set among some here that has brought shame to me.
I still believe that more honorable than dishonorable people live here, that there are open-minded, warm-hearted people all over this county, but too often, their voices go unheard. I read once that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men, good people, to do nothing. Consider this my attempt to “do something.”
I feel are some barbaric incidents happening in our community. My heart is broken, for my own family, for the many families that I’ve spoken to recently. One after one, people are telling me of incidents where their family pets have been shot, poisoned or maimed and nothing was done, where officials brushed complaints aside and did nothing to investigate them, where people are literally afraid to come forward for fear of retaliation against their families.
I want everyone to understand that I love my town, I love my state, but we are sorely lacking in certain areas such as effective measures against animal cruelty, child abuse and other unsavory acts that are justified through political loop-holes, but for now, I’m simply going to address endangering children and animal cruelty.
As I comb through state laws, my mouth just drops open at the unfair, lax laws and nonchalant attitudes some people hold in regards to cases involving children and/or animals. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you upfront that this is a personal issue for me. I’ve made a living most of my adult life by working with children. For the first ten years, I did it practically for free because I wanted to teach so badly that I’d take any job open; I guess it’s because kids are my passion that I also have a soft spot for their pets. Their hurt is just as real as any adult’s, and it’s always purer.
Let me highlight just two incidents. Someone recently told me that a little dog the children of Sparksville’s Antioch Church liked to play with had been shot to death. Who does that? Who kills a friendly dog that an entire congregation of children love? I’m not even sorry to say that I think this is a type of cruelty, not only to the dog, but to those children!
Sunday, a friend told me that her great-granddaughter, (whose father is an old friend of my family, as well), along with nine other children, was walking down the road with their dog in Columbia, Ky. The dog always walked with the children. A man came running out, screaming and cursing at the children. He pulled out a gun and fired eight shots into the dog. Eight red hulls fell to the ground. The children were about fifteen feet from him. He kept firing, even as my friend’s daughter broke into a run toward the dog to try and save it. This man fired a weapon while a child was running toward it, risking her own life to save the dog she loved. The child, terrified and wailing, fell to the ground and cradled her dead dog in her arms. The man who shot it? He had no compassion, either for the child or the dog, nor the other nine children who were terrified for their lives. The girl’s mother took photographs of the dog and of the evidence, but the police, upon arriving on the scene, refused to do anything because when the dog fell, his head landed on the man’s property. The girl’s parents said they thought it was wanton endangerment of a minor but the police went on to say that because they were only children that their testimony wouldn’t amount to anything in court, that it would simply be the children’s word against the shooters. The officer didn’t have to go home with the little girl that night and hold her when her nightmares started. The shooter didn’t have to go to the hospital with her when she became so hysterical that she needed medical help. Furthermore, when the girl’s father stated that it was against the law to fire a gun in a residential area, the officers told him that it was a “misdemeanor at best.” However, I’m left wondering. How is this NOT child abuse? Would you want your child to witness that? To go through that horrific experience? Besides, officials told the mother that Kentucky laws were on the shooter’s side. The dog had no rights. And apparently, the families of those children have no rights, either. They were brushed off and now, they are afraid to come forward with names for fear of retaliation from a gun-wielding neighborhood bully with anger management problems.
So, why am I writing this article? To raise awareness, to say, “Hey, Kentucky. These laws are backward and ignorant.” In fact, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Kentucky ranks 50th in the nation in regards to animal protection. And, according to the Animal Welfare Alliance, we rank 56th! Even territories like Guam and Puerto Rico have better laws regarding the treatment of animals than we do! Kentucky is a state known for famous horses and award-winning cattle. Why aren’t there better, more humane laws in place to protect animals?
Who do concerned citizens turn to? My question to the caring people of this community is: Will you help me? Will you show the world that not all Kentuckians are still clinging to this backward, outdated and close-minded ideology? Please help me put actions behind these words, write your senators, write your representatives. Make it plain that the next time you vote for any public official you want to know where they stand on the treatment of children and animals. I can promise you one thing, if I know a person had a lax stance on the treatment of children or animals, he or she would not get my vote.