Are the Unfortunate Ones, More Fortunate??

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I picked up a bait dog the other day, abandoned at a park, injuries all over his face and legs. An open wound on his hind leg. He’d snap if your hand went anywhere near his head .

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But when I brought him back to the shelter, he responded to the women while growling at men. A man must’ve hit him, repeatedly.

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I named him Wyatt- In honor of a puppy that we’d just lost to a freak accident.

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While tossing and turning all night; I figured that we couldn’t just leave him at the shelter. In the metrics of animal control, he was just another dog. Just another number.

He’d be deemed as human aggressive in 72 hours and euthanized- that much I knew.

So I contacted people who care, those don’t take NO for an answer- who stop at nothing.

Those people were;

A woman; not intimidated by a gargantuan sum of money a trainer asked to neutralize Wyatt’s human aggression.

A man who pleaded with others to save Wyatt’s life and then stepped up himself; willing to risk his 10 other pets and learn how to deal with an aggressive animal.

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The overall figure we needed to raise ran well over 2500$.

As donation after donation came in and friends responded to our pleas to donate, I asked myself- WHY WYATT?

Why do we expend all our resources to save one dog- just because he has a story while hundreds other die at the shelter because their story isn’t sad. Because it doesn’t get Ooh’s and aah’s and likes on FB.

The unfortunate become the fortunate.

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Is Wyatt’s life more important than Paris’s life? The quiet, shy pit bull who died amidst our last minute pleas to save her.

Sometimes we see so much cruelty around us that one dog becomes a SYMBOL.

A symbol that we will not allow cruelty to win over love.

It’s still just one life and NO Wyatt’s life is not more important than any animal that is euthanized.

But we root for the under-dog. We look for the unfortunate ones- and try to make them fortunate.

We try to make LOVE win- because we DESPERATELY need to believe that good wins over all evil.

Wyatt is well on his way to recovery- while several have died un-noticed.

Both we and them have been the unfortunate ones.

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To Steal or Not to Steal ?

 

Dinggggg

Dinggggg

But I’m watching the playoffs.

Dinggggggg

 

“OK OK, I’ll look.” I yell at my laptop.

You have been tagged on a post. I take a deep breath.

2 Pit bulls- Possibly will be sold for drugs to become bait-dogs. Please help.

I click on the post. There are 57 comments. People in rescue and concerned humans commenting over and over about “Hope someone can save these poor dogs.”

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Don’t do it, Inder. Just don’t . It’s the same dance.

My fingers type these words. “I’ll get them.”

Darn it.

It’s a drug-den and I’m new to Dallas. I’m somewhat familiar with the dingy underbelly of Houston. This is new. I need a lookout person.

“Can someone go with me to steal these dogs?” I type and wait.

No response.

It’s the age-old dilemma. We want to save dogs but we want someone else to save them. It’s always someone else.

ME

 

There’s just one person I know in Dallas and I ask her. A 30-year-old Vegan woman who just loves animals and is a kind generous and lovable soul. She is very slightly built- but she doesn’t hesitate. “I’ll go with you.” She types.

Together we go through the rigmarole. A pair of new box-cutters at Home Depot. Gloves, leashes, treat. And we are off.

The things to determine are

  • Is it a prized fighting dog? In that case we are screwed. He will be aggressive, and expensive and well protected.
  • Is it a bait dog? He would be timid and injured.
  • Is he a dog that’s just neglected?

 

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My strategy to steal or report cruelty or buy will depend upon that.

I check for dog-fighting paraphernalia; none. I approach the dog to check for friendliness. He is in a dog-house in a vacant lot. There is filth all around him and he comes out slowly. He has a giant chain around his neck with 5 locks dangling from it. His gait is labored, his neck is lowered, his shoulders are hurting from the heavy chain.

Gosh.

I extend my hand to him. He comes close and sniffs it. Then he just drops to the ground and throws his legs in the air. He want’s human contact- any contact other than a human striking it.

I rub his belly. He moans and groans. I’m his new friend.

I’m just about to remove his chain from his neck when I hear a voice behind me.

“Is there a problem?” An extremely thin, older man walks up to me. His hands are placed on his hips.

“Plan B, Plan B, Plan B”

I try to get him to give up his dogs and negotiate a humane release for them. But he just wants some money. His missing teeth confirm my doubt for what he wants money for.

My life is a struggle to prevent drug use, but I am pro-life. Just pro-dog-life. He wants a 100$ apiece or he will report me to the police for attempting to steal his dogs.

I threaten cruelty and tethering citations. But he’s played this game a hundred times before. He calls my bluff.

I offer him 80 $ and he agrees right away.

Five minutes later two sweet pit bulls are on their freedom ride. In an air-conditioned car after years of being in dirt and filth and the elements, within a minute both are snoring.

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That’s how I almost went back to stealing. The sweet woman who was my lookout driver had type 9-1-1 on her phone already and her trembling finger hovered over the green button of her phone. She had told me she hasn’t stolen anything in her life. I promised her that I would try and keep her record intact. And we did.

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Two dogs got another shot at life or a shot at a humane death.

And I almost stole again.

But some crimes are worth it- aren’t they?

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ROAD-MAPS OF THE SOUL- August’s tale

A human’s journey is complete when there is someone at the door to greet them when they get home. What is an animal’s journey? Some unfortunate ones struggle through the ups and down of a horrific world that we’ve created for them.

Dinggg. The amber light glowed on my cellphone screen. New text message from the Mole. I pushed the green tab. “One male black puppy. 8-10 weeks old. Rail-yard.

I gulped and quickly checked my watch. 7:47 PM. The fading sunlight in the Texas sky stopped me in my tracks. I was planning to go to the scariest part of town for picking up the puppy. A neighborhood where drugs exchange hands and possessions of guns and knives was the norm. The brutal practice of dog-fighting and killing of the weak bait-dogs was an everyday practice and this remote rail-yard provided the ideal backdrop for it.

Yet the puppy tied to the railway tracks wouldn’t make it till the morning. He was deemed too weak by the dog-fighting gang so they had tied him to the railway tracks for the train to crush him. I must get him from there tonight. I wore dark clothes and armed myself with a flashlight, a bag and a knife for protection.

I crouched low to the railway tracks and whispered, “Here, puppy puppy.” I whistled and strained to hear a sound in the darkness. My fingertips rested on the tracks and the shiny metal felt warm on my fingertips Gosh, has a train gone over these tracks recently? Is it too late?

I crawled down the tracks as they curved by the bushes and vanished from the view of the road. The beam from my flashlight danced on the broad gauge sleepers hoping I wouldn’t be spotted by the gang-members. My eyes squinted to adjust to the all-encompassing darkness.

           Aooor.I strained to listen again. Aooor.

I sprinted towards the sound. There he was; a little black puppy tied so close to the tracks that he couldn’t move more than two inches away from them. Just as expected he was a Labrador-Pit bull mix. Blood still oozed from the scar across his face. His legs had scars and his fur was matted with crusted over blood.

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“Don’t worry, little guy, you’re safe now,” I cut the rope and lifted him in the air. He was cowering and trembling but the moment I held him close to my chest, he stopped wailing.

Next morning, back at the animal shelter where I volunteer the 8 week old puppy played with the Labrador Retriever, Chevvy. He had been fed, bathed, given medicine and a new name; St. Augustine A.K.A August.

August stood up to Chevvy and teased him into playing with him. Even when he was pushed to the ground, he never backed down from a scuffle. One day when he and Chevy were playing with a tug rope. August got a little too bossy and Chevvy lost his cool, grabbing one end of the rope he flung August about six feet away. August got up, shrugged himself off and was back bothering Chevvy to ‘do it again’……

St. Augustine had boundless amounts of energy and he ran around in his small cage at breakneck speeds, the centrifugal force propelling him higher in the cage like a motorcycle in the well of death. The motorcycle gets higher and higher, the faster it goes.  It made such a horrible mess in his cage, that everyone thought he was un-adoptable.

I knew he was just burning his energy and being a rambunctious puppy. One day I caught him trying to bite his way out of the cage to try and escape, so he could play with the rest of the dogs.    It’s sad to see such a live-wire spend his puppyhood in a kennel.  August’s journey wasn’t complete yet, he needed a new home.

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Week after week of taking him to adoption events, failing to find him a home and leaving him inside a small cage every night made my heart bleed. I spent several nights staring at the ceiling, imagining his sad empty eyes behind the cold stainless steel rods, wondering if the cost August was paying for being safe at the shelter with his puppyhood was a fair one.

My friend, Navnit met him on one of her trips to Texas, fell utterly and completely in love with him and decided to give him a new home and a new name; Augustus Maximus.

A month later when I visited Navnit, August ran to the door to greet me. His tail wagged merrily and his butt shook in glee when his tongue licked my cheek. ‘All dogs are adoptable’, I thought to myself. We just need to give them a chance to succeed.

Augusts journey spanned being a lone puppy minutes away from being crushed by a locomotive engine, to finding limited joy at the animal shelter and finally an overabundance of love from Navnit.

The warm Texas breeze tousled my hair when I drove back that evening, worried about when I’d receive the next text from the Mole; my informant within the dog-fighting gang. How many more puppies can I save among the sea of cruelty all around me? A new puppy would be starting his journey soon.

August’s journey is now complete – he has found his road-map; now I need to find mine.

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