What is the hardest thing you’ve done?
Killed an innocent dog who thought you were taking him out to play?
Deal with a starving and abandoned dog, emaciated to the point of no return?
Just when you think you have seen the pits of what animal control and cruelty investigation has to throw at you- You get a simple order in an email.
Breed- American Pitbull Mix
Pls decaptitate and take head to Greyhound station to be shipped to 321 Main Street,–
Your throat constricts. All the rabies prevention classes where you read that the only way to determine if a dog has rabies is to decapitate and ship his head to a lab just became a naked, ugly reality staring you in your face.
But- I—Me—We— Why—
You read again- but there it is- Clear as day D-E-C-A-P-I-T-A-T-E.
You go to your supervisor and ask why is it necessary to decapitate even after the dog has passed the necessary 10 day quarantine. Is it not enough that he was euthanized despite not having rabies.
In response he point to page 866-B in the state-laws code book.
When he asks you if you have the ability to do it. You say you’ve never done it before. So he asks you to witness it so that you can do it next time.
So you and another officer retrieve a black garbage bag from the freezer and lift the frozen over dog to the metal table.
Then you take a scalpel and circumscribe a cut around his neck. The semi-frozen blood oozes out and you step back from the table.
“Just hold him.” Says the other officer who has done this a hundred times. Then he proceeds to sever the muscle of his thick neck one by one.
You dig your nose into your shoulder and hold the dog from slipping off the stainless steel table. The open-sewer like stench urges your bile to throw up your lunch.
Then you see a spurt of blood. The jugular has just been severed.
As you beg your knees to not give way for 5 more minutes the other officer says, “We’re almost through. Lets yank the rest off.”
He digs his bloodied hands out of the dogs neck and tosses away the third blunt scalpel. I push on the dog’s torso while he uses the leverage to break off his head.
Sweat drips off my forehead despite the A/C blasting through the vents. I pray for more strength. 2 more minutes. Dear god, give me 2 more minutes.
When the head refuses to come off the officer starts twisting his head like a bottle cap to break it off. That’s when my will gives up. My mouth is now full of vomit. I rush out the door and fall to the curb- coughing up my lunch all over the pavement.
How much more is this job going to drain out of me?
What do I have that has not been taken yet?
I’m driving to the bus-station with an icebox on the front seat. I remove the lid and look into the dog’s glassy eyes staring back at me.
I pet his disconnected head.
I just have my love for the animals and my compassion left. And a promise to help as many as I can, to not meet a similar fate.