Not long after Mallory and I started Golden Gate Rescue, I got a phone call asking if I could take an eight week old puppy that was seized during a cruelty investigation. I agreed immediately. It was a female, Pit Mix, who was very small and scared. I was warned she had a hernia and to keep an eye on it in case it needed immediate medical attention. However, I was also warned that these dogs can't be altered until the court case has been closed. If they needed to be treated, they had to be seen by one vet and one vet only (Animal Control). I understood, but I didn't know a case like this was to be drawn out SO long.
I slowly grew attached to this puppy. I raised her and taught her right from wrong. I gave her human love that she has NEVER been known.
I felt happy to be a part of bringing her justice. But it wasn't just her and it wasn't that easy. In the court, it isn't cut and dry like we feel it should with the evidence we had:
There were 17 dogs; seven adults and ten puppies. They came into the shelter on May 6th, 2017. According to the animal control officer that picked them up, he explained they smelled rancid, paws caked with feces. The police officer on the scene said his nose burned from the rotten smell coming from the shed most of the dogs were entrapped in. The mother of the puppies had to lay in layers of compacted excreta to nurse. This put the puppies in danger of disease and the mother suffered extreme mastitis, untreated until animal control came to their rescue. In the storage shed housing the mother and puppies also held exposed insulation, saw blades, exposed wiring, among other hazards inquisitive puppies should be protected from.
On a different area on the property was an overturned cattle trough (metal). Under it, they could hear dogs in distress. Upon the discovery of the trough were 3 mature dogs trapped, squished together, breathing unhealthy air and fighting for limited space. It was evident the dogs tried to dig their way out, but the cruel man responsible for these dogs covered the trough with cement blocks and plywood to prevent their escape. In May, the temperature during this time showed a high in the low to mid 60's. However, the cattle trough collected heat from the daytime sun, putting dogs in danger of hyperthermia and no adequate ventilation for the distressed dogs to breathe and cool down.
There was no sign of food or water anywhere. These conditions are not suitable under any circumstance. The evidence is cut and dry. The vet testified and used her expertise to prove these conditions unsuitable. Yet, the battle is still on. This nasty man forced dogs to live in these conditions, most likely leading to ultimate death, and he STILL wants them back. Now December 2017, over seven months of fighting, leaving these poor animals tied up in a fight they are unable to be freed from, the man is now bankrupt. He has no money to care for 17 dogs and has no place to house them. He can't sell the puppies as easily now as if they were still eight weeks old. If he really cared for these dogs, he would've relinquished his rights to them and they would've been in loving homes a long time ago OR he would've cared for them properly in the first place.
Through my first real experience with the legal side of animal cruelty, I have learned a lot:
1. I learned that some people can't be reasoned with. Their selfish agenda keeps their ignorance booming. They feel they are never wrong and everyone is out to get them.
2. I learned that the court can't always cut the case like we wish could be done. They can't throw the book at these cruel people without allowing them to defend themselves, even if the defense has no logical reasoning or legal proof.
3. I learned restraint. As much as I wanted to rip this man apart for treating innocent animals with such disgust, I had to maintain professionalism. I had to show that we, the animal advocates, were stronger. I had to show we were there for the justice of the animals and weren't going to back down.
4. I learned that I, personally, was stronger than I ever thought I could be. Since May, I have felt so many different emotions from this court case alone. I was proud, sad, fearful, nervous, angry, excited, and passionate among many others on my rollercoaster ride. I went through bouts of crying, unsure if Animal Control's case would be seen by the court in the way I hoped it would be. I had to force myself to straighten up and be optimistic. After all, it's not about me. It's about the dogs and I needed to be strong for them.