4. The Heart of the Season: A Dog’s Purpose and Justice for Karley and All Who Deserve It

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Anyone who loves a dog will relate to this story at some time. My uncle, who was probably the original “dog whisperer,” sent it to me.  I don’t know who wrote it or where it came from, and it is a bit maudlin…but, it sums out how many of us dog lovers feel.  Unfortunately, not all people are dog lovers, or lovers of ANY animal, including people who are supposed to be role models.  More on that later…First, see if this little piece doesn’t touch your heart…

***

A Dog’s Purpose (from a 6-year old).

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolf hound named
Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to
Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything
for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to
observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so
calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few
minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat
together for a while after Belker’s death,wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal
lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ‘I know
why.’

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more
comforting explanation.

He said, ‘People are born so that they can learn how to live a good Life — like loving everybody all
the time and being nice, right?’ The six-year-old continued, ‘Well, dogs already know how to
do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.’

Live simply.

Love generously.

Care deeply.

Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would
learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always
run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to
go for a joyride.

The last line about the joyride makes me smile, because like many dogs, my own sweet boy, Slick, is madly in love with riding in the car.

Slick was a lucky boy because I finally managed to take him in after he spent 8 months as stray.  But so many don’t have that sort of luck. So many dogs (and cats and other animals) are cruelly mistreated. And what sort of message is sent when someone in a public office or someone with celebrity status commits heartless and inhumane acts towards animals?

Consider the case of Karley, a 6-month old shepherd mix who was so brutally beaten that she had to be put down.

KARLEY

KARLEY

The perpetrator? A  Los Angeles County Assistant Fire Chief named Glynn Thomas Johnson. And this is not the first time that Johnson had attacked a dog owned by the Toole family who live near Riverside, California.  A site called PetAbuse.com has compiled the case:

Shelley Toole called deputies in August 2000, saying Johnson shot her dog Kahlua above the eye with a pellet gun. The deputy, she said, told her that it would be her word against his and advised her not to pursue the case.

Bryan Monell, a senior investigator with Last Chance for Animals, a Los Angeles group specializing in animal cruelty cases, has interviewed residents in Johnson’s neighborhood who say their dogs have gone missing or have been shot with pellet or BB guns.

Chris DeRose, founder of Last Chance For Animals, said that in his 30 years of investigating animal cruelty cases, this was one of the worst beatings he’d seen.

“When you see something like this you got to take a stand,” he said. “To me, it’s not just an animal issue, it’s a people issue.”(my bolding)

The incident happened Nov. 3 in an unincorporated area near Riverside.

Travis Staggs, a friend of the Toole family, said he was returning with Karley from a walk when Johnson approached and asked if he could take the dog the rest of the way home.

“He walked maybe 100 feet with the dog and that’s when it happened,” said Shelley Toole, who had discussed the incident with Staggs but had not seen it herself.

“Travis saw Karley on her back and Glynn punching her with his closed fist at least 10 times to her head. He then literally pulled her jaws apart until they broke.”

Staggs told police that Johnson then hit Karley more than 10 times in the head with a rock.

Staggs called 911. Not long after, Johnson’s wife called 911 reporting that her husband had been attacked by a dog.

Karley’s nasal cavity was crushed, her skull cracked in three places, her ear canal collapsed and one of her eyes lost, according to the veterinarian’s report.

“The vet told me, ‘We can try to save her, but if she survives she will have permanent brain damage and may not be able to function,’ ” said Shelley Toole, who chose to have the dog euthanized.

“She was never an aggressive dog. All she wanted to do was play. We took her to the river and she rode in the boat with her head over the railing. She loved the water.”

A public outcry, demonstrations and demands for tougher penalities in animal abuse cases have been ongoing since the November 3 incident.  Extensive media coverage and the involvement of  Warren Eckstein, who hosts “The Pet Show” (whom I listened to years ago when he broadcast from New York) helped spur the public’s involvement. Eckstein’s site has extensive coverage of the case, particularly the protest actions.

After weeks of protests, Johnson was arrested on last Tuesday (12/16) and will be arraigned on January 13, 2009 on charges of “one count of felony animal cruelty and the use of a dangerous weapon in the commission of a felony. He was released on $10,000 bail and faces up to four years in jail if convicted in the beating of 6-month-old Karley.”

The family has set up a site, Justice4Karley.com,  and a group of retired LA County firefighters have set up a fund to help pay for legal costs as the family pursues a civil suit against Johnson, which they will pursue no matter what happens in the criminal case.

But there is more at the site than a plea for donations. There is a picture taken of Karley (the “least graphic”) as she was being treated by the vets after the attack. It is testimony to the viciousness of Johnson’s actions.

But locally, a high-profile animal cruelty case has been dismissed. Why? With the help of  delaying tactics by the defense, too much time has gone by to prosecute the case!

Judge dismisses animal-cruelty case

By Lauren E. Toney Sun-News reporter

LAS CRUCES — A visiting state district judge ruled Tuesday that too much time had elapsed in the case of a Las Cruces teacher charged with multiple counts of extreme animal cruelty, and dismissed the charges.

Jack Catlan, 57, a speech pathologist at Picacho Middle School, was indicted in February on two felony counts of extreme cruelty to animals and 20 misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals.

“The judge felt that there was a speedy-trial violation,” explained Susan Riedel, chief deputy district attorney, citing a defendant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial. “Nobody wants to see a case lost on a technicality.”

She explained visiting Sixth Judicial District Judge V. Lee Vesely, of the Silver City area, traveled to Las Cruces to assist with the caseload and ruled that too much time had passed since Catlan was indicted.

Riedel noted that trials were previously set for June and then November, but despite efforts to push the case through a fast-track program, it was delayed by defense motions, and a heavy caseload at the state district court.

“It’s largely based on clogged dockets at the courts,” she said.

On June 28, 2007, the sheriff’s department spent 10 hours removing 125 animals from Catlan’s property at the 500 block of Fairacres Drive.

Earlier that month, Catlan’s neighbors contacted officials about the number of animals on the property. A search warrant was served on Catlan, but he refused to allow deputies on his property, holding them at bay for more than three hours.

A rooster, two goats, five ducks, 25 chickens, 33 dogs, and 59 cats were eventually seized.

Officials reported some animals suffered from neglect, including dogs with visible sores and matted and tightly twisted fur. One female dog had a perforated uterus from over breeding, authorities explained.

A teacher, a role model, let off the hook because the courts are too busy and the defense files delaying motions.   So much for justice here in Southern New Mexico when it comes to animal abuse cases (and there are many!)…and how many cases related to things like child abuse or domestic violence?

Of course, this case is small potatoes compared to the Michael Vick case.  Vick was back in court in late November on felony charges.

Report: Vick, co-defendants found humor in killing of helpless dogs

Updated: Saturday November 22, 2008 12:35AM

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Michael Vick put family pets in rings with pit bulls and thought it was funny watching the trained killers injure or kill the helpless dogs, a witness told federal investigators during the dogfighting investigation that brought Vick down.

In a 17-page report filed Aug. 28, 2008, by case agent James Knorr of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and released Friday under the Freedom of Information Act, a person identified as confidential witness No. 1 said Vick placed pets in the ring against pit bulls owned by “Bad Newz Kennels” at least twice and watched as the pit bulls “caused major injuries.”

The witness said Vick and co-defendants Purnell Peace and Quanis Phillips “thought it was funny to watch the pit bull dogs belonging to Bad Newz Kennels injure or kill the other dogs.”

Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison in Dec. 2007, and is due to be released from the federal prison at Leavenworth, Kan., on July 20, 2009. He returned to Virginia on Thursday and is being held in Hopewell pending his appearance in Surry County Circuit Court on Tuesday, where he is expected to plead guilty to two felony charges but receive a suspended sentence.

The report, which has some names and other information redacted to protect some of the parties involved, also details the killing of several dogs at property Vick owned on Moonlight Road in Surry County in mid-April 2007, just days before the first search warrant was executed on the property, turning a drug investigation into the one that sent Vick to prison.

(SNIP)

The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback, once the highest paid player in the NFL, has been suspended indefinitely by the league and his football future is uncertain. He’s also in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings with $16 million in assets and $20.4 million in liabilities.

Peace, who also was convicted in the case, said there were times he suggested that dogs unwilling to fight be given away, but that Vick said “they got to go,” meaning be killed.

The dogs were killed by shooting, hanging, electrocution and drowning, and in at least one instance, according to one of the witnesses, when Vick and Phillips killed a red pit bull by “slamming it to the ground several times before it died, breaking the dog’s back or neck.”

What really angers me is the Vick, like the local teacher, won’t feel the full brunt of the law.  The local teacher’s lawyers basically delayed his case to the point of extinction. Vick is already serving a sentence of only 18 months for the dog-fighting conviction  and the punishment on new felony charges is probably going to be suspended.

When I think of how the law is being watered-down in these cases, it makes me think of what we’ve seen over the last few years, first with Bushco and now with Obama.  A lot of skating around the law, bending the law, and judges ignoring the law.

I’m hoping that the fire chief who beat Karley, if convicted, has the book thrown at him.  Somewhere, somehow, the law must be applied.  Isn’t that’s why it’s there?  To be applied? We’ve seen how a lenient judge paved the way for the horrible tragedy suffered by Bettyjean Kling’s daughter Louisa this past week.  Cruelty is cruelty, causing harm or death is wrong, whether it’s against an animal or a woman.

So let’s pray that their is Justice for Karley…and all of those who deserve to see it.

Godspeed, Karley…and all other innocents that have died or been harmed at the hands of heartless humans.

****

The Rainbow Bridge at PetLoss.com

Justice4Karley.com

Pet-Abuse.com (cases, law, databases, and local case pages which includes lists and maps of recent animal abuse cases for your local area)

Warren Eckstein

These Gray Days of December

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

It’s nearly winter in southern New Mexico.  For the most part we’ve had sunny days, but lately we’ve had our share of gray.  Earlier in the week we actually had rain and there was snow up in the St. Augustin pass and the peaks.  A couple of weeks ago I took my short trip up to The Other Side of the Mountain…these days, that excursion wouldn’t be so inviting.

First Snow on Organ Peaks 12/08

First Snow on Organ Peaks 12/08

It’s always shock when the gray sets in this time of year because it feels so PROFOUNDLY gray.  Growing up in New Jersey, going to college in Ithaca, New York, and spending a year in Milwaukee, Wisconsin I accepted the rain, the snow, and the raw weather.  The occasional blizzard, too. By March, however, it was downright depressing. Sure, spring was around the corner and a 40° F day seemed warm. But it was the continuous gray that got to me.  It just hung like a shroud…

A series of gray days or days that start out sunny and turn gray with a low cloud cover is hard to take here in southern New Mexico. Maybe I’m just older. Maybe I’ve just gotten spoiled. But when what I call “Jersey weather” descends, so do my spirits.  A single day of completely gray weather affects my mood to the point where I am praying for the Sun’s return so that I don’t have to feel like I need to curl up into a ball and hide. I often wonder how I managed to tolerate the winters back East and the one in Milwaukee, which was just plain brutal!

The webcam has been showing the back and forth between bright blue skies, wispy clouds, and heavy clouds that look like it will rain any minute. By Christmas, the really “bad” days of winter set in. Sometimes we will have a rip-roaring wind and rain storm or perhaps an inch or so of snow that melts almost immediately.  It will feel like winter back East for about a week, then we get usually pleasant days with very cold nights through January and into February.  As long as the days are dry and sunny, I don’t care much about the nights, except for what the coldest spells might do to my garden under the “greenhouse.”  In that case, I throw a few blankets over the vegetables for a bit more protection.

The dogs know the weather has changed. Tico hates this time of year.  We adopted him on February 1, 2002, the same day that he was dumped in the cage outside the animal shelter after being kept for a month by people who had found him by the side of a road.  We had our name on a list for a small dog to be a companion for Toro, and when the shelter called I rushed right over. Tico was sitting in a box of shredded paper, alternating between shaking like a leaf or growling with bared teeth.  The attendant begged us to take him, as he wasn’t making a very good impression and most likely would wind up being put to sleep within a few days.   Once I held him, that was it.  Since it was a Friday, he couldn’t be picked up until the next Monday after his neutering surgery, so we brought Toro over to play with him and the two seemed to get along.  We took Tico home and since then we’ve seen that winters are hard on him. He curls up as if he’s hibernating and refuses to go out when he senses a change of the weather. He’s as sensitive as a precision barometer.  He is so upset that it’s even hard to keep him on a schedule to go out to the bathroom. He must have some very bad memories from being out on a cold road during the winter as a pup. Toro, on the other hand, is a New Jersey native who grew up playing in the snow and has no problems during the winter.

Slick, of course, was rescued from the streets at the end of 2002  just as the weather turned cold.  Now that he’s older, he doesn’t protest too much when I put on his little “jackie” for his early morning walk or his nighttime pj’s made of a cut-up sweat pants leg.   As a min pin, he really feels the cold to the point of shivering and it’s not unusual for me to wake up in the morning to find him out of his bed and under the covers with me.

This year there’s a real difference in how I’m feeling as winter approaches.  It’s just a few days shy of the two-month anniversary of the death of my ex-pat friend who lived in England.  Sharon and I never met in-person, although we talked on the phone and then via Skype.  We  first “met” while I was doing columns over at Buzzflash (ca. 2001). We started corresponding and kept at it until this October.

I  knew she had been having health problems, but she was very private. She told me she had pneumonia (which turned out not to be true) and that she was getting better. But her emails, which had been an almost a daily ritual, became less and less frequent.

Suddenly, she wrote and told me that she loved me.  A few days later, I received an email that she had died.

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