(Welcome About Cats readers! It's mere coincidence that we have dog blogging above the fold today. More cat blogging below! Hope you enjoy both, and thanks, Franny, for the link!)
There are few animal organizations I admire more than Dogs Deserve Better. They have taken a problem (chained dogs) and made it their own. Tammy Grimes is passionate without being...well...as over the top as some of the rest of us are. I admire her ability to balance common sense with firm moral action. And now she has been arrested for removing a suffering dog from a chain. Now, she knew she might be arrested. That's not the issue. The issue is that the owners of the dog have not been charged. Please visit the Dogs Deserve Better site to read and view about the incident yourself (Note, the page is in blog style. Read from the bottom up).
Note to anyone in a similar situation. Humane officers are not the only agency that can respond to a case of animal cruelty. Call your local police as well. If they refuse to respond because it's "not their job," nicely ask that they log your call as received on their written log or computer-aided dispatch (also, almost all police calls are recorded, but tapes might only be kept for a week before being taped over, so check back if ASAP if you need proof that you called).
To have charges of cruelty lodged (in the state of NY) tell police you wish to file a written deposition. Even if they try to tell you it's not a crime...politely but firmly insist on filing a deposition. Once there is a paper in the system, someone has to do something with it. They can't just dump it in the trash. Someone has to make a decision, and someone becomes accountable for that decision...not just you. Don't expect police to file charges based on what you tell them. Ask to file a written statement yourself. If they still refuse because "they don't do animal calls", put what you witnessed in writing, make a copy, and leave it at dispatch. Let them decide what to do with it.
Maybe it ISN'T a crime. For example, if a dog has food, water, and a dog house, no matter how dirty or sad he is, this physical and emotional neglect may not be against the law. But chances are good your local police are not familiar with animal cruelty law, so don't take their "over the desk" word for it. Ask to see the law and if they are too busy or don't have it, politely ask to leave your deposition for someone to review when they have time.
Never be rude to police or officials, and always persevere. I once took a witness and his deposition to the local DA for a signature for a seizure warrant for a kitten that was dying on a city porch. The DA told me (in front of the witness) that "he didn't have time for kittens; he was working on a murder case." Luckily, as we walked out, I passed the city judge's office and he was working late. He graciously took the 10 minutes required to review the evidence and issue the warrant. The witness, who had previously been PO'd with me for "not doing anything" (he had wanted me to take the kitten from the property without a warrant) apologized and expressed his shock that we were treated so poorly in an attempt to get a dying kitten veterinary care LEGALLY.
However, I have to say, now that I am no longer a humane officer, with a uniform, a badge, and some small clout to walk into a DA or city judge's office after hours, I probably would have just taken that kitten, left a note on the owner's door saying something like "Because you weren't home, I though you would want me to help your kitten who was in distress. I can be reached at...", and gone to the vet with him immediately. At the time, I followed standard procedures--and risked the kitten's life by delaying--because I worked for an official agency and wanted to keep my job. My job at the time was ALL ABOUT following criminal procedure. It was about following society's rules and my employers rules---and that was secondary to the kitten's life at the time.
The kitten's life shouldn't be secondary.
And neither should Doogie's.