That’s how long Pepper was at the shelter, in the Give a Dog a Bone program. Her owner took her home yesterday. And, yet, this is not a happy ending.
Pepper came into the shelter as a cruelty case. The four-year old female pit bull had come in looking like a skeleton. She was seized by Animal Care & Control due to her awful physical condition. Pepper had been starved, that was obvious. Who knew what seemed like a cut-and-dried case of animal cruelty would be anything but.
As a GADAB volunteer, I don’t know the details of every dog’s story. That is on purpose. But, I hear bits and pieces, and what I don’t hear, I can guess. I can fill in the blanks. A starving dog. An owner charged. The dog is taken away from the owner.
Yet, the last part never happened. This story didn’t end that way. And I still don’t understand why.
The owner fought the charge. While Pepper stayed in the shelter, in a kennel, her owner walked free for 10 months. She had to appear at court a few times, while Pepper served the entire sentence behind bars. Why? Why would someone who had starved their dog fight to get her back? And why would ANY judge who saw the photographic evidence ever let them succeed?
I saw the photo. I wouldn’t give the owner a goldfish. If it were up to me, the owner would never, ever be allowed to have an animal again. What is wrong with our legal system? A story was laid out for them, with photos and testimony. A living creature was mistreated. Starved. And the person responsible was not held accountable. For 10 months, Animal Care & Control fed, loved, trained, and took care of Pepper. And now the owner was getting her back, healthy. With even a little extra weight on her. How could it be that this person gets back the dog they starved? How can that be right?
The case was never heard. ACC lost the motion to suppress due to illegal entry. Apparently a starving dog is not an "emergency"... So, tell me, judge, what would be an emergency? A dead dog? Explain that to me.
The only good side I can think of in this case is that we all got to be friends with Pepper. Smart and funny Pepper. We took her out to the park, and Corinne was able to spend time with her in the GADAB office. We did so much to keep Pepper sane and sound. She was first to go out. She had a special place in the office where she could enjoy a kong on a cushioned bed. She learned so many things, and made so many friends. The perfect girl, we called her. I especially loved the way she trotted when out for a walk. She always trotted, like she had somewhere to go.
Like Corinne says--"it's pretty amazing to shelter a dog for 10 months and see her leave as temperamentally sound as when she came in, if not better socialized, more mentally stimulated, very playful, and with some new and fun tricks up her sleeve."
Oh, Pepper, big girl, you will be missed.
And, because we are helpless at this point, I am trying to think positive thoughts for Pepper. Maybe her owner learned something. Maybe her owner will realize she can’t handle the responsibility and we can help Pepper find another home. Maybe…
Yesterday I did a google search for “animal law.” Am I too old to go to law school? Because, if the case of Pepper came across my desk, you better believe I wouldn’t sleep until the roles were reversed. The human behind bars. The dog, free to go.