I volunteered in an animal advocacy group many years ago, so it’s not as if I haven’t been exposed to animal cruelty cases. My German shepherd is a rescue case; she was a stray brought into the pound, unclaimed, severely underweight, and rescued by Homeward Bound Dog Rescue of Minnesota. But the case of Patrick, a one year old pit bull who was starved to a skeletal condition, too weak to walk, and then was put in a plastic bag and thrown down a trash chute, is one of the worst I have seen. If a maintenance man hadn’t noticed that the bag moved and investigated it, Patrick would have ended up in the trash compactor. I, like many, wept with outrage and grief at the story. Who would do this? Why? The photographs of Patrick when he was first brought in are almost unbearable to view. In some of them there is a weariness in his eyes that makes him look ancient. His eyes also seem to ask the question: why?
There is no reason that will ever adequately answer that question. The only thing that took the edge off of my grief as I sat in front of my computer in a darkening room, too stunned to get up and turn on the lights as the daylight outside faded, was knowing that there was an outpouring of support and donations and messages from around the world, the dedication of the staff at Associated Humane Societies and Garden State Veterinary Specialists, and the caring action of the maintenance man who called for help. If the story began with the worst of human behavior, it ends with the best of human behavior. And as I look at the photographs of Patrick, given the name because he was found on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, I see a story, too. Never try to tell me that animals don’t have a spirit, for I will not believe you. It is there in his eyes, an awareness, a world-weariness, a sadness, but also a growing steadiness, a flicker, a spark. How he survived in the condition he did is beyond understanding, like so many other things in his story. But he did survive. Your days of suffering are over, Patrick, although it will take time to heal. Welcome to life. I wish that the same could be said for all who suffer.