Why are dogs – who are victims of intentional abandonment, imprisonment and starvation – routinely condemned to die in a local animal pound? Does the legal responsibility for an animal’s suffering and right to a life free of pain, terror and exploitation by human hand lie in the city and county coffers where our tax dollars are deposited, or is it the community’s obligation to bring justice for the animal victims of abusive, irresponsible members of a community? And what about the moral responsibility?
In April 2010, Bo, a Catahoula Leopard dog, and Luke, a hound-boxer mix, had no “say so” in their cruel master’s decision to desert them when he moved from a rental house in Saraland, Alabama. After nearly a month, Bo”, who was confined in a cage and Luke, tied to a tree, were spiraling downward; emaciated, dehydrated, infested with heartworms, fleas and suffering from the unrelenting heat and frequent storms. Ever hoping and listening for their master’s steps, or a voice or the engine of a familiar vehicle that never came, this was their endless hell on earth. Mobile County Animal Control was alerted, finally, May 11, 2010.
At Mobile County Animal Control facility Bo and Luke would not have received veterinary care they so desperately needed, because little to none is provided there. If not taken under the wings of a group of Mobile County concerned citizens, who volunteer daily at the Mobile County Animal Control facility, photographing animals, aggressively searching for fosters and homes and paying for life-saving veterinary care, these two dogs’ story would be short and utterly sad.
“Without the incredible generosity and compassion of veterinarian, Dr. Elizabeth Lantz and staff at Rehm Animal Clinic, 75 N. Schillinger Road Mobile AL 36608, we couldn’t save, rehabilitate and find forever homes for the many animals who pass through this shelter”, says one of Bo and Luke’s rescuers. “Without private donations and support, sick and injured animals would have little chance to make it out alive.”
After a lengthy stay at Rehm Animal Clinic, hanging on to life by a thread, both Bo and Luke were accepted by Bonnie Blue Rescue, Moody, AL, where they continue to receive veterinary care and much love and attention until they are ready for forever homes.
Bo and Luke’s tragic story unfolded and culminated in an optimistic future on the pages of FACEBOOK. Hundreds of followers rallied, posted, donated and pulled for their survival. A recent video from Bonnie Blue Rescue, showing the dogs’ amazing progress, brought a breath of relief and wide smiles from viewers.
A shelter volunteer commented, “Bo still wore a collar around his pathetically thin neck, on which his abscounded owner’s name and former telephone number was printed.”
The owner, Rodney Lyman Loper, was arrested on June 1, 2010 but was released until his court date, which is set in the distant future, March 7, 2011. According to Saraland Magistrate Department, for his atrocious crime, he will be charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty.
Rodney Lyman Loper turns out to be a “piece of work”:
Rodney Lyman Loper appears to be quite the “wild-hog hunter”, to which his public MY SPACE page attests, using dogs as weapons to track and attack the huge wild hogs that inhabit the swamps around Mobile County, often subjecting his “trained” dogs to injury or violent death. One of the dogs in Loper’s video and photographs looks suspiciously similar to Bo, when Bo was healthy – and “useful” for Loper’s “hobby”.
While the crime of animal cruelty is deemed a misdemeanor by current Alabama law, a “lesser” criminal act, the crime of torturing an animal is considered a felony, thanks to Gucci’s law. Only trouble, – starving an animal to the point of death would have to be interpreted by the courts as torture, (a Class C felony), according to Saraland Police Department public information officer.
Clearly, AL Code, Section 13-A-11-241 (b), defines the crime of “depriving a dog or cat of necessary sustenance or shelter” as a second degree Class A misdemeanor, rather than a first degree Class C felony.
The first responders on the scene of Bo and Luke’s unspeakable torturous situation, the volunteers who saw that they received emergency care, the veterinarians who donated their expertise and the community whose hearts were wounded by their immense suffering would not agree that this was not torture in the highest degree.
On June 16, 2010, at the heels of Bo and Luke’s lengthy recovery period, an undetermined number of half-dead Labrador Retriever dogs were confiscated from deplorable conditions, among the skeleton remains of other victims, at a residence in Mobile County, impounded in Mobile County Animal Control facility. In addition, a lone skinny labrador was removed from an apartment wherein he had been denied food and water for months while in the “care” of a convicted criminal’s girlfriend.
Before many of them could be saved by the Mobile volunteer rescue group, devastating news slammed rescue efforts, when 24 Pit Bull dogs were brought in on June 18, 2010, by order of law enforcement, to be held as evidence in a suspected dog-fighting ring.
What do these recent animal impoundments mean for the adoptable animals awaiting homes at the already overcrowded animal facility? They are in dire danger of being killed in order to make room for the new victims of animal cruelty; innocent Pit Bulls who have been abused and trained to fight for criminals’ entertainment. The Pit Bulls face almost certain death after their usefulness is over in the current dog-fighting case unless rescue, rehabilitation and sanctuary can be offered.
What do the county fathers think of the never ending cases of animal cruelty occurring in their county, or the lack of proper funding for true shelter, including the lack necessary veterinary care, for Mobile County’s growing number of abandoned, starved, neglected and abused animals? No one is saying.
On the other hand, the struggling group of Mobile County volunteers are reaching out to Alabama animal advocates, Animal Rescues and individuals for a helping hand in an overwhelming assault upon innocent animals, saving and providing veterinary care for “one at a time”, as many at a time as humanly possible.
In the meantime, if not saved by private means, abandoned and abused dogs and cats will continue to be exterminated like trash in Mobile County Animal Control, as well as in most public animal facilities throughout the state.
If the victim of a crime happens to be a dog or cat, they, most likely, will pay for their perpetrator’s crime.