I was working as a humane officer, driving from one neglect case investigation to another, when I saw him: a large dog, limping pitifully down the middle of a busy, four-lane street, with traffic whizzing past him. I stopped my car and got out. The dog stumbled into my looped slip leash, and when I scratched his ear, he sighed and leaned into me.
I carried this thin, dirty fellow to my car. Some dogs stiffen in fear, but this big guy just melted into my arms. He clearly had been a handsome boy at one point, but his eyes and nose were now crusted as a result of an upper respiratory infection, his coat was filthy and matted, and he had an odor that surely bothered him as much as it did me.
I rushed the dog to the animal shelter, where the veterinarian determined that he was elderly, with enough health issues to merit charges for failure to provide veterinary care if the person who neglected him could ever be found. Euthanasia was undoubtedly a mercy for this poor old soul. A technician gave him an injection, and he left this world.
To this day, I find myself asking, “Who denied care to this sweet dog in his senior years? Hadn’t neighbors noticed his condition? Why didn’t anyone stop to save an old dog who was walking down the middle of a busy street?”
I’ve met hundreds of animals who have been saved from suffering and danger because a kind person refused to just look the other way and keep going. Please, for the sake of animals like this dog, report neglect and abuse immediately, and if you see an animal in danger, always stop to help.
Written by Scott VanValkenburg, the PETA Foundation’s director of membership communications & special projects