Editor’s note: This post contains material that will almost certainly be upsetting. Proceed with caution.
Lisa Miels, one of the many Massachusetts residents shattered by the case of a dog called Puppy Doe, says the story hasn’t left her mind since she heard about it.
“My dog, Sunny, sleeps on my soft couch. He eats too many treats. He loves the park, tennis balls, and sniffing trash,” Miels says, with a catch to her voice. “This dog, she knew none of that.”
Miels is one of thousands of citizens outraged by the horrific story of Puppy Doe, a young Pit Bull found by a passerby in a Quincy, Massachusetts, park on Aug. 31. To say the dog was abused is an understatement.
The severely underweight dog was taken to the Animal Rescue League of Boston, which posted this on website:
“Puppy Doe was probably one to two years old. In addition to being starved and beaten on many occasions, causing fractures to the head and body, she appears to have undergone some kind of crude cutting to create a serpent-like split to her tongue. The dog had also been stabbed in the eye in the days prior to being found in Quincy.”
Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore of the ARL Boston called this the worst case of animal abuse she has ever seen, and shared this statement to CNN:
“She was a rack of beaten bones,” Smith-Blackmore said. “Her joints were pulled apart like Medieval times. She was beaten, stabbed, burned over weeks to months and maybe her whole life. And could not walk. When I saw how vulnerable she was, and I understood immediately the duration of her suffering, my heart collapsed.”
The little dog’s injuries were so overwhelming the only humane thing to do was show her some brief kindness before euthanizing her.
Dangerous individual remains at large
This case has remained in the spotlight in Massachusetts, where ARL Boston and the Quincy Police Department are adamant about finding the culprit. They’re concerned that it is unlikely a one-time incident; such an individual is likely to target other animals -- or people -– now or in the future.
A break in the case came when the dog’s original ownership was traced to Connecticut. The unnamed owner provided photos of the dog, originally called Kiya, in a happier life. Devastated to have learned of the dog’s fate, the owner reported that she was forced to rehome happy, friendly Kiya at the insistence of her landlord. Authorities suspect the dog was then shuffled among hands online, before landing with her torturer.
No arrests have been made in the case, and a sizable reward has been offered.
Enormous public outcry
Unable to fathom who or why anyone would do this to a defenseless animal, a very shaken public has pulled together in support of Puppy Doe. A vigil held in Quincy drew more than 250 supporters, both human and canine, and received widespread media attention. Another vigil is planned in New York City on October 26, which is National Pit Bull Awareness Day. A Facebook page dedicated to justice for the dog currently has more than 50,000 likes.
A petition has been posted on Change.org, imploring Jim Buckmaster, CEO of Craigslist, to put an end to the free exchange of pets allowed on the site.
A call to end the free exchange of animals
Online sites, posting ads for free cats or dogs, are the perfect feeding grounds for animal abusers looking to obtain their next victim. While the petition to Craigslist is one step, it’s not a complete solution. The bigger issue is to raise public awareness on how to safely rehome an animal.
“We are wholly philosophically opposed to using the Internet to give pets away for free,” says Rob Halpin, director of public relations at MSPCA Angell in Boston, adding that Craigslist is just one of many sites posting such ads.
Halpin urges owners facing a rehoming issue to turn to trained professionals at shelters and rescues. These individuals will explore the pet’s medical and behavioral history, and do extensive background checking, to ensure a lasting, safe match.
“Pet owners lack the skills and resources necessary to properly vet would-be adopters. The result could be the worst case scenario that is the Puppy Doe case,” he says.
A cry for stiffer penalties
In the wake of the case, legislation for Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety (PAWS) was filed in early October. Proposing to step up animal cruelty penalties in Massachusetts, it calls for:
- Quadrupling fines for first offenders, to a total of $ 10,000
- Giving repeat offenders a 10 year prison sentence and $ 20,000 fines
- Imposing a fine of $ 2,000 and/or jail time to animal-involved hit-and-run drivers
The bill would also establish an anonymous animal abuse hotline and create a statewide registry of convicted animal abusers.
PAWs was authored by senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, with fellow GOP Senators Robert Hedlund and Richard Ross, and Democratic state Rep. Linda Dean Campbell.
Change for other homeless animals
The magnitude of this case has left many individuals eager to do something. The initial public response was so intense that the Quincy Police Department called for restraint, saying that online vigilantes and false implications on the Internet were slowing police progress.
The best response may be to look toward helping other homeless animals.
“Our fervent hope is that those affected by this can channel their outrage into positive momentum for all animals, so that Puppy Doe will not have died in vain,” says Halpin, who suggests the following steps:
- Lobby state and local officials for stiffer animal cruelty penalties in your area. “For example, animal cruelty in Massachusetts is a felony crime punishable by up to five years in prison and up to a $ 2,500 fine. No one ever gets that,” Halpin reports.
- Adopt a homeless dog. “Tell friends, neighbors and relatives about the positive role that a dog plays in your life and encourage them to rescue a dog as well.”
- Help the organizations that care for homeless animals. “(Rescues and shelters) are always in need of kindhearted volunteers who will walk dogs, clean cat boxes or just spend time with animals.”
- Donate what you can. “Food, blankets, toys and pet supplies are always needed. And money helps animal rescue organizations do what they do,” he says.
Thinking about what this small, defenseless dog was forced to endure is beyond heartbreaking. While it was too late to save Puppy Doe when she was found that August morning, both professionals and the public refuse to allow her suffering to have been for naught. The case has been a catalyst for change, raising awareness and sparking changes to safeguard future animals from abuse.
Read more about crimes against dogs:
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