Neglecting man’s best friend

It is very disturbing to drive around Marion and witness the all-too-common “dog cages” where the family pet is relegated. In some cases where one sees the same dog day after day, it’s a pretty safe bet the animal enjoys no family contact, and this is simply heartbreaking. It makes one wonder why folks even have this dog. What happened to man’s best friend? I presume the dog to be guilty of some crime, since it has been apparently sentenced to life without parole. And here is a friend who, besides protecting your sorry self, will love you unconditionally—which is more than I can say for the human race.

Dogs, by their very nature, are social animals, which simply means they want to be with you—they thrive on you and the company you provide. For thousands of years, man and dog have enjoyed a relationship unique in the animal kingdom. It seems they literally get the short end of the stick in many ways—unnecessary caging being one. [Also,] if you don’t want to “fix”—spay or neuter—your dog after so many litters … you should be made to stand at the mouth of the gas chamber when the attending animal-control officer labors to put one of your dogs in it before the door is sealed.

I pass one unlucky dog day after day who does not enjoy the company of the owner in an ample and attractive house sitting on approximately two acres. From the street, it is easy to see the build-up of feces on the concrete pad of the 10-by-8 metal-fence enclosure. The cage is located almost as far from the house as possible, with one sheet of plywood providing, depending on the angle of the sun on a 90-degree day, a sliver of shade. [For these] disgusting, inhumane conditions and gross negligence, I ask: Where is the law? Where is the local Humane Society? Well, I’ve talked to both and got nowhere pretty quickly. You hear that it’s old laws that have to be rewritten, updated etc. If you dig deeper, you are told … that there’s not a whole heck of a lot that can be done … to address animal abuse [and] the horribly unfit living conditions too many dogs are forced to endure day after day. … As cordial and helpful as Teresa Parkins of the local Humane Society tried to be when I called, … her frustration with the [apparently] scant and unencompassing laws was quite evident. She directed me to [Animal Control’s] Sgt. Walker, who … basically threw his hands in the air and told me people around these parts treat their dogs “like their daddies did.” I got the message.

He was good to accommodate my inquiries and look into and act on a few concerns, but the whole experience was frustrating because I was told in so many words that, at least in this county, there was little to nothing on the books specifically to protect the little ones.

Well, are we going to join together … and effect legal change in the name of caring for the little ones who depend on us? Your congressman may actually be moved to act, if he is aware that enough [of us] care. Contact Rep. Heath Shuler, 356 Biltmore Ave., Suite 400, Asheville NC 28801.

— John Marston

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