November 29, 2003

by Beth

Earlier this week, I had the unforntunate experience of a visit from the local Animal Cruelty Investigator. In the aftermath, I cried – sobbed, harder than I have in since we lost our schnauzer last year. Before that – God alone knows when I’ve cried my eyes out like that.

At our house we make a home for two cats: George (see the picture on the header of this website), Ollie (a 14 year old feline who has stayed with us through thick and thin, including a house fire) and 2 young mini-schnauzer pups: Charlie (11 months) and Grace Louise (4 months). My family, somewhat justifiably, accuses me of caring more at times for these creatures than my children. Of course, the youngest of the children is a freshman in college, and they really don’t want Mama looking too closely over their shoulders. And until a couple of weeks ago, we were the stated “owners” of a 3rd cat, Hobbs – I say stated, because we paid his vet bills. Hobbs much preferred the company and cat food at the neighbor’s house, and knowing that a cat picks its people, we let him abide in this choice.

afew months ago Hobbs was hit by a car. The neighbors brought him to me, and I, in turn, took him to our vet. The Vet and I decided to amputate his tail – it was as good as gone, and see if his hip would heal up. And, lo and behold! as soon as ol’ Hobbs was faintly mobile, he moved his butt back to the neighbors, and proceeded to heal up right nicely. He hobbled a bit, but was soon wandering around the yard and chasing birds and squirrels. Not too successfully, but back at it. Then, something shifted and he quit being able to relieve himself – and eventually quit eating. This I know after the fact… after I was interviewed by Animal Control and told that they were seriously considering filing criminal charges for neglect and abuse (hence the tears).

The facts as best I can tell: yes, the cat was in bad shape and the neighbors were making plans to have him put down (euthanized); he made his way as far as the street, presumably trying to get to the woods to exit this life in peace; That’s when strength gave out and he was discovered by other neighbors, and Animal control called in. If it had been 3 hours later, he would have already been at the vet’s, being helped into the next world.

So – after the confrontation on my front steps with Animal Control/Animal Cruelty, they huffed off to talk with my neighbors. Mind you, they informed me in no uncertain terms that it was very likely that I would be arrested and taken to the county jail. Bless my neighbor. He was home, and told the investigator the same thing he had told told animal control when they picked up the cat. And, the charges were dropped and I’m not in jail. Just shaken to the core.

What a nightmare! I kept thinking – frantically – I haven’t done anything wrong. Why is this happening? I can think of some sort of legitimate reasons why law enforcement might want me – a couple of speeding tickets out on I-85. I kept thinking “This is the kind of bizarro charge that makes it to court while the bad guys get off!”

As I reflect on the experience – interior and exterior, I am thankful that God is the judge, not I. I am reminded of the need to not storm into a situation half-cocked and make assumptions. I support animal rights – I would never want to see any creature mistreated. I am grateful for the moral and emotional support of my friends, my vet, my co-workers – during the horrible 3 hours when I was reeling from the accusation. T’is a truly mortifying experience to be accused of something that you find personally morally reprehensible.

So – step in when it’s needed – but remember that “assume” makes an ass out of u and me… and people get hurt.

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About the Author

Beth

Marathoner (hey! I did complete the Nashville Rock'n'Roll Marathon! -- never again!), peregrino (Via Frances, Camino de Santiago de Compostela 2013), techie behind famvin.org for over 20 years now, mother to David, Marie and Daniel, Mémère to Lily, Ella, Genevieve, Henry, Avery, Luke and Claire, Catholic Christian (when I get frustrated and want to leave the RC I find myself asking "But where would I go?"), Auburn Tiger (War Eagle!), retired from Auburn University Libraries, and after 44 years, I'm still married to JP.

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