Thursday, September 9, 2010

Only cowards shoot cats and abandon dogs!

9/8/10 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Only cowards shoot cats and abandon dogs

There’s a reward poster circulating in our neighborhood describing a recent chilling cat shooting. Sadly, our peaceful countryside lifestyle is often punctuated with these posted cries for help on behalf of wounded or abandoned animals and their caregivers.

This time it’s our neighbors Pat and Ralph Deter who need help. They have two house cats and four outside cats (inherited when a neighbor moved away). During the day, the outside cats roam the acres of woods behind their house and come home at night to be fed and put to bed. August 28, one of their cats didn’t come home for supper. She was gone all night. Her name is Jane.

Animals that don’t come home are always a concern in our area because there are many natural predators. A large cougar has been caught on surveillance tape prowling the streets, along with the usual raccoons and other critters. But the person with a gun is the worst predator of all.

August 29, around noon, Jane came dragging her tiny body home. Upon examination, she was found to have been shot by a shotgun with at least 11 pellets embedded in her left side. She is paralyzed in her hindquarters. Blood tests will determine if the pellets are illegal lead birdshot. If so, it will slowly kill her.

It’s not unusual to hear gunshots in our area. In fact, there are two shooting ranges nearby. People not only practice target shooting but roam the area during hunting season. So no one probably paid any attention when someone blasted Jane close enough to pepper her with birdshot. If the shooter had been closer she would be dead. Neighbors would later recall hearing a single gunshot that afternoon.

Thrill seekers give warped rationale to justify using pets as target practice. It’s all very twisted logic. We can’t even give this shooter the benefit of the doubt and say that he or she was aiming at a wild animal. This little gal looks like a Siamese kitty with calico markings and blue eyes. Scary? I don’t think so!

Reactions to the shooting have ranged from anger and sorrow to indifference. Some shrug as if to say, “Oh, it’s just a cat.” Others say, “Your cat shouldn’t be roaming around anyway.” I say, that’s still no reason to shoot it. Unless an animal is threatening your life or someone else’s don’t wound, maim or kill it — report it!

Unfortunately, those of us who live in the country often see the results of what I call a “road kill” mentality. Some see a strange cat on their property and shoot it. If it’s already dead on the road, they’ll run over it again. It sounds sick and it is.

Over the years I have written many news briefs and stories of animal abuse and shootings. It’s a bizarre crime. And yes, it is a crime; a violation of Lane Code 7.120. So if you witness a person causing physical injury or death to an animal, you can report it to Lane County Animal Services at 541-682-3647.

Animal abuse and abandonment is on the rise. We always see abandoned dogs after the campgrounds close. Many of us have found homes for strays when our own rafters were full. One neighbor found an English Spaniel on her doorstep that just stayed until invited to live there. Pat Deter and my husband teamed up to get help for a dog living with a severe case of mange in a nearby park.

That poor mangy pup was not wearing any identification. It was homeless. One of life’s realities is that people get tired of their pets and illegally dump them far away from where they live. Those who live at the end of any country road can tell many stories of car doors opening, animals being dumped, and squealing tires as the cowards drive away from their trusting pets.

We are still haunted by the dog with ghost-like white eyes that ran out of the park every time Chuck’s Jeep drove by. Day after day he ran circles up and down our street and between the parks. One day we decided to tempt him into the car with some treats but he was wary and would get only so close. That afternoon, we heard a gunshot. A ‘yip!’ And the dog was never seen again.

Domesticated cats and dogs do not survive long in the wild. The survival instinct has been bred out of them. Dumped dogs are doomed to starve to death (or worse) while patiently waiting for their families to return for them. Cats and kittens quickly become part of the wild animal food chain. It’s heartbreaking.

A different kind of dog abandonment happened last week on the interstate. My husband was driving over the Main St. overpass when he saw a young boy carrying an armful of fur — on the freeway! Up ahead was a car and utility trailer. Chuck pulled over, turned on his flashers and got out to help the boy. He thought the dog had fallen out of the vehicle.

The boy’s mother got out of the car and told Chuck they had been traveling home when they saw this young, frantic dog tethered to the guardrail. They looked around and didn’t see an owner. Not wanting to abandon the dog to an uncertain fate, they impulsively decided to take it home with them. God bless them! Not all stories have such a happy ending.

Ralph Deter is a hunter and a cat lover. But he hunts for food, not to hurt and maim. He asked me to pass on this piece of advice to all neighborhood barbarians who shoot for fun: “Never shoot anything you aren’t going to eat — unless you like cat.”

Man up, cowards! And readers, don't ignore this stuff. Help stop the cycle of abuse by speaking up when necessary..

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. 
Read her weekly columns in the Cottage Grove Sentinel

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