I’ve worked with shelter pets for twenty years and just saw a billboard yesterday that reminded me of how important it is to report abuse of any kind.

Years ago I volunteered for a shelter that was one of the first to take and hold pets until a domestic violence situation was concluded.

Bullies/abusers usually start with small animals, turn to pets, then their children and spouse. If someone makes a call that should be answered, ahem, listen to this shelters and domestic violence agencies who probably put callers on hold, that an animal is being abused chances are the family is in danger.

Often folks don’t want to tell on their neighbors if they think there’s a problem, and even if they’re concerned city agencies don’t pick up the phone and their hours are ridiculous. No-one who works can spend an hour on the phone or longer going to a shelter and standing in line.

When I got my first shelter dog in 1991, she’d been abused by a deputy sheriff and kids threw rocks at her and her brother. I started volunteering there the day after my family’s Collie died and she’d just come in as well.

I visited Chani every week even when I was in a neck brace and couldn’t take her out. The owner came to the shelter and asked for her brother, Buddy, but he’d been adopted. He didn’t want Chani.

A year later even in a no-kill shelter there was talk of euthanasia and a fellow volunteer turned staff member let me know. Chani was home with me the next day. For a while she had aversions to anyone in uniform, also kids. We had a good life together for another ten years.

She rallied in weeks and with basic obedience and some private training was the best dog and loved kids. Uniforms were still tricky but she never attacked, only barked when our neighbor came out in his dress whites and not shorts and a t-shirt.

When she died I had to tell all the parents and kids at the park, and all the dog owners. They all bought the city a tree in her memory, a tree that is thriving and since I don’t live there anymore I’ve seen Google Earth and talked with a photographer, and also a good friend there who has promised to place a cup of water on her tree for me.

My dog was an abused dog. I don’t know how she was abused but I rehabilitated her step by step. Now I wonder if this law enforcement official “graduated” to abusing his wife and children and think how horrible a situation I may have ignored just because our neighborhood loved my dog for ten years.

I will try to get animal agencies and domestic violence agencies together but BEFORE an angry person starts beating the dog or the kids, let someone know.

Pets are the gateway to violence towards people. I want to make sure people answer the call.




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