It’s a Culture Thing

Two weeks ago I rescued a neighbor’s starving dog. She had no food, water, or shelter. I worked on this case for months, waiting until nightfall and wearing dark clothes to sneak her dog biscuits through a chain link fence. I tried to talk to the owners months ago about improvements I could help with, but they would not listen and in fact told me to mind my own business. I had already asked them to pick up the piles of kitchen garbage in their front yard and did not want to start a war.

I tracked down a free doghouse and planned to sort of diplomatically force it on them, but saw that the dog was getting thinner by the day, her ribs and backbone prominent under her short fur. Then I noticed she was in heat, which is obvious when you know what to look for.  She looked to be about 20 pounds underweight and I knew she wouldn’t make it through the winter. I finally decided to liberate the dog in a midnight black-ops rescue.

We brought her to safehouse in another town where a contact took her in. We had her vaccinated and spayed. When they spayed her, they found she was carrying FIVE DEAD DEFORMED PUPS due to malnutrition. If we had not rescued her, the vet said she would have delivered the dead pups within days and died from infection. The dog never once complained about the discomfort she must have felt.

I feared disclosing this information to anyone but a few trusted animal-rescue contacts, and stressed over how to find her a home other than the usual route. She is loving and smart, but I was afraid to advertise her in any way. Since the owners did not look for the dog or take any action at all, I assumed they didn’t notice she was gone, but I still did not want to push it by publicly putting her up for adoption.

My shock and disgust at learning the true severity of her condition changed all that. I no longer cared if the owners saw her picture on a poster. But by some miracle, through my connections, I met someone who is coming to meet the dog this week. For the past two weeks I have felt a sense of relief as I pulled into my driveway and did not have to watch a starving dog desperately trying to get my attention. I could not feed her during daylight hours because I feared the owners would see me and make the dog’s life worse by chaining her in another part of the yard where I would not be able to reach her without trespassing.

This morning  I saw my neighbors pull into their driveway with a new puppy. They immediately put the pup in the back part of their yard where I cannot reach her.

The physical sickness I felt before is now back. I am in a difficult position—not wanting to start a war with my neighbors, not wanting to call authorities because I cannot prove anything or admit what I did. I have learned the hard way living here that calling local agencies often proves futile. There is a fine line between keeping an animal barely alive and actual abuse, and agencies often do nothing. Many people who live in town just look other way.

My neighbors have religious icons in their yard and attached to their house but apparently this belief does not extend to animals. I just don’t get it.

27 responses to “It’s a Culture Thing

  1. Debra, I am so sorry. I am grieving here with you. There’s no consolation for this, I know, but you have saved a dog’s life here. Yes, they replaced her with another dog they will abuse, but they would have replaced their dead dog too, after she died after giving birth to those pups. So because of you, a dog has been saved.

    Is a “culture thing” to abuse children? I see no difference here. Yet if children were involved in this, people would not look away. The children would be rescued, your neighbors would be prosecuted. People are despicable.

    • Kay, right. It’s different with children. But a dog or cat is not worth the shame many people here in this hippie town would would feel if their friends accused them of the imaginary concept of racism. I can’t believe I moved here thinking I would fit in. There is an unbelievable double standard here.

  2. This is sad, sad, sad. I sincerely commend you and understand your actions. I can not fault anyone with the conviction or the go for all to do the right thing.

    ‘On the outskirts of town’ or on the fringe can at times be an ugly place to reside. I don’t mean visually, rather, more in terms on the way some conduct themselves. I’ve caught myself speaking with righteous tones against those who have come to be ‘on the other side of the river or track or on the outskirts’. I get angry at myself for doing so. Who am I to judge. I know better than to paint everything with the same brush. Yet, you have to wonder. Given the atrocities that come to light; such as those you have described—what else lurks there? Would scare the shit out of me if I really knew.

    Maybe am weak. Maybe am soft. I know at times I’ve shown conviction for issues that concern me. When I have seen something that is harmful or wrong I will speak out or take action in someway. It has not always been pretty when my anger got the best of me. However, sometimes a wrong has to be made right.

    To be honest with you, I couldn’t live where you live for fear of being swallowed up by it.

    • Hudson, I am being swallowed up by it. And I have lost any affection I had for the culture ever since the Monument fire—I said what everybody here knows but is not allowed to say. I received pages of hatemail. People just don’t get it.

  3. What makes me sick...

    Hey Debra, that’s a terrible story for that dog. Glad you were there. What sort of religious icons do they have? Culture? No excuse anyway. I’ve had neighbours (downstairs, same building) start wars with me before, and I never did ANYTHING wrong, to anything or anybody! Fuck ’em. Start a war! Also, thank you for your kind and thoughtful words earlier. ‘Stay feisty’ is good advice, especially in these times.

    • Hi What Makes. Virgin Mary and crucifix icons. They are everywhere. At Christmastime, houses are brightly lit with decorations and lights while the dog stays chained in the yard in freezing temperatures.

      This is why as an atheist, I cannot stand atheism as a political platform. I have written about the double standard of atheists—they rant and rave about how much they hate those horrible Christians, they’re the worst people on earth. But only white ones. Latin American Christians have a bad record of animal abuse but somehow that’s OK. And don’t dare say anything about Islam. Again, I have written about this and received piles of hatemail from outraged atheists. There’s a famous “comedian” who lives here who preaches opening up the borders but CONSTANTLY rants about Christians. People just don’t get it and I can’t write about it anymore as it’s impossible to have a discussion.

      I once mentioned to an acquaintance how hard it is to make friends with other atheists. She said “you need to get more involved in leftwing causes.” No. It’s not worth it. I don’t care anymore about atheism as a cause. I just want to connect with good people. I’m no militant, except about animal abuse. The woman who took this dog in and spent $500 of her own money saving her life is one of those horrible white Christians, that f*ckin narrow-minded bitch.

  4. It just angers and hurts me to no end when I read or hear of people treating animals like your disgusting neighbours have done and will do again. I won’t put into print what I think should be done to those people. How upsetting it is for you and those of us who love animals to know these low life slime ball dregs of society will now be allowed to torture another poor innocent young puppy. And, this is only one animal out of countless millions in similar situations. I agree with Kay Camden about people being despicable and will leave it at that. No point in me launching into my thoughts on what I really think about this whole miserable people dilemma on this planet. You definitely did the right thing in getting that poor dog out of there when you did. We need more people like yourself in this world and less slummy parasites like your neighbours!!

    • Hi Al, this case has submerged me into a deep depression because it’s so hopeless. Certain cultures believe animals are nothing but pieces of shit to mistreat, fight in pits, put on chains and abandon. It’s not just here, it’s all over the world. But yet they won’t put an animal down, oh no, that’s a sin. Better it starve to death, slowly.

  5. If there is a Heaven, you, Debrushka, will wear a very large crown studded with many jewels for what you did for the dog. We can’t save them all, only do what we can. The Ku Klux Klan too is a culture thing, so what. Eff such cultures. Any progress with the we-buy-houses people? I too want you to save yourself.

    • Hi Ann, thanks. I’ll keep doing whatever I can, though just a tiny speck in the big picture.

      No, you can’t sell a house in Arizona. People would rather boycott us because we’re so evil.

  6. First, your rescue of this abused dog, is heroic. I’m sure, from your point of view, it was absolute and necessary. Your determination deserves much respect, and you have that from this reader.

    Is there a problem with reporting these ignorant humans to the SPCA or state animal cruelty people? I’m sure you have considered that given your experience in such matters. I’m curious as to why you have not chosen this route. I’m confident you have a good answer.

    Your next rescue will require more stealth, more determination. I doubt there is any force of nature that will stop you should the need arise!

    • Hi Wild Bill, thanks. It doesn’t do any good to call authorities here. In fact, it can actually cause further harm because it makes the owners hide the abuse. I would much rather have it out in the open where maybe I can do something productive rather than have an animal control officer give them a ticket. I’ve seen it happen over and over, and one of my own dogs came from a similar situation. We called the dog warden, he gave them a ticket, but the owners continued to neglect the dog, only this time with a bowl of water. Big deal. Plus, the animal control officer here doesn’t care about animals and is actually part of the culture I’m talking about.

      • That’s awful but I suspected that is why you were avoiding the authorities. Sounds like there needs to be some reworking of state law and animal abuse. Perhaps I’m naive. I’m sure AZ has bigger fish to fry from the political point of view.

        To you I say thank you on behalf of all dogs everywhere.

  7. You’ve done an amazing thing.

  8. Hey Darlin –

    You saved one animal here and I have no doubt you’ll find a way to save this one if humanly possible. I don’t think the time will come that we make these kind of people understand what it means to properly care for an animal. Talk, threats, animal control violations will continue to fall on deaf ears. While every person that treats an animal like this should be responsible, we need to make the breeder/seller of these animals responsible for who they sell to. But, until laws are changed at every level of the government dealing with animal control – nothing will change.

    I spent years and years in the rescue game with horses and dogs (Great Danes and 1 Dalmatian). It is unbelievable how people treat animals and I don’t think I ever reached a point to where I said “It’s just another one” that someone didn’t take care. Each animal rescued came with a previous life and story, it’s up to us to give them the opportunity to be a normal animal that isn’t abused.

    When I bred dogs, my sales contract clearly stated that I could enter the buyers property at any reasonable hour and if I felt the dog was abused, I could take the dog without legal repercussions.
    The law needs to change to the point that all breeders are required to responsible for the dogs/animals they sell for the life of the dog, regardless of who has possession.

    By-the-way — I, with a couple others have gone on many midnight horse rides to take abused and malnourished horses to undisclosed locations. Not once did anyone every report those horses missing.
    If there’s a will — there’s way 🙂

    • Cowboy, you got it. Giving an abuser a ticket accomplishes nothing except make them craftier about hiding it. The culture here “doesn’t believe in” spay and neuter, it’s cruel you know. They especially can’t stand the thought of neutering. And many people with purebred dogs run backyard breeding centers. We rescue A LOT of dogs from breeders who dump the old or sick ones in the desert. There are posters tacked on bulletin boards and utility poles everywhere advertising purebred puppies for sale, $400.

      I would love to see you on horseback rescuing abused horses. That’s another major problem here—horse neglect. Skinny, ribs showing, being eaten alive by flies.

  9. Why does it bother me?

    Man alive this is a horrible but good post. I feel so sorry for you. Dog nap the puppy, they clearly don’t care. Just keep doing it till they stop getting pets! Or just keep reporting them, I know that a lot of different agencies seem reluctant to act, I think this is a global thing, but the more complaints you make the more likely they will act, if only to stop having to deal with you on a daily basis. The other thing to do is mention to people how it has been proven by numerous studies that people who neglect / abuse animals often go on to neglect / abuse people. (All the way through to being a deranged mass murderer.) I think if you put the wind up your other neighbours they will soon start to report these people and then they will hopefully be banned from keeping animals.

    • Hi WDIBM, I’m going to keep at them until they give up, but not by reporting them. Yes I’ve read that animal abusers often move on to human abuse, but I think here it’s more of a cultural trait. They believe animals have no soul so it’s OK to mistreat them.

  10. I wish I didn’t read this when I did: just before hitting the sack. Lucky I’ve taken my anti-depressants for it is sickening: these egregious and pointless acts of animal cruelty, none the less damnable for being crimes of neglect rather than commission

  11. Deb, an afterthought – I noted in Wild Bill’s post that you should consider the state animal authorities rather than locals who are as you say part of the culture. I believe a higher authority could confiscate the dog, I know they would here. It’s worth looking into some official way to get the new puppy out of there. By the way if theyre so religious, they should study St. Francis of Assisi, patron of all animals, who risked being burned at the stake for preaching that animals had souls, and who always allowed them into the small church in his religious community.

  12. I don’t think folks get who rules the kingdom down here. People think it’s rednecks, but that in no way is true. I don’t want my tires slashed. I already have a small-caliber bullet hole through a large front window. Arizona is one giant corridor for drug and illegals smuggling, but you better keep your mouth shut about it. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the border is safe though, so it must be true. The biggest drug smuggling operations in Mexico are quasi-religious and they come to my neighborhood wanting to use sheds and campers. People are afraid of them and their enormous families. I’ll handle this myself, and I will. It’s already in the works, so stay tuned.

  13. Oh, Debra.
    So many words and I just cannot get them out. I have so much emotion when I read this. I do not understand the mind set of any human who abuses an animal or child.
    What I do understand is losing a part of yourself everyday, bit by bit. Please find a way to get out. Your hell was not my hell, but the result is always the same. Do not let yourself be used up. I waited far too long to make my move. You are such a loving person, you deserve as much as anyone. You have “Found Your Outlet” as such. Now find your personal outlet….far from there. There is always a way. There will be someone to help you. I just feel it.
    Anyone have any opportunities for an intelligent loving lady?
    Debra, keep loving yourself.

    • Barbara, you are too sweet. There’s no escape from Arizona in these bad times. There are houses here that have been for sale for 5 years or more. 31% of housing transactions in AZ last month were foreclosures. Illegals came into a neighbor’s yard the other day to get water from an outside faucet—and left the water on, she didn’t see it until the next day. There’s a constant stream of them coming through the desert behind my house, and my friend who lives near the San Pedro River sees groups of them being picked up by smugglers every night. The people who live in town don’t have these problems and defend the illegals no matter what, as many Americans do. All this peace and love shit isn’t working no matter how hard you want it to. Here on the fringe, we live with guns, dogs, fences, locks, and a vigilance that becomes instinctive. It’s not a nice place.

      In order to sell a house, you have to give it away and I can’t do that. Maybe someday, with a new government and real-life border security, things will change. If I knew then what I know now I never would have moved here, but I listened to the wrong people and see things worsen each year. The massive destruction and subsequent political correctness regarding the Monument Fire killed any lingering hopes I had.

      In the meantime, I hope to expand my editorial services business, I’m on my second synopsis/query letter and have just been contracted to edit a book. It’s the best thing that’s happened since I’ve been here because I love it so much and feel it is my destiny. So if you know any authors who need help, please send them here!

      Thanks for writing, I really appreciate it.

  14. Contact the Best Friends in Utah. Ask for help/information, etc.
    This is a fine organization that is well-known and will have some helpful ideas on what to do.

    You are a good person to help a helpless furry friend.


  15. Debra — I have no words. God bless you for rescuing the pup(s) that you can. I have done the same, and wish every time that I could do the same to the people who have done the mistreating. In our travels, I have seen permanent residents of campgrounds/rv parks who also abuse their dogs, and the images and anger stay with me always.
    I am also so very sorry that you are trapped in that area. I lived in New Mexico for 30 years, and now travel and summer in Arizona. I too love the southwest, but, like you, have so much trouble with the cultural beliefs towards animals.
    Again, God bless you for all you do.


    • Hi Renee, thanks for writing. The beauty of the southwest is tarnished by disrespect for the land and its creatures. I know how the images stay with you, I have horrible dreams every night.

      If you’re in southern AZ, you get those dogs and bring them to me!

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