DUMPING BINS -
I'll never forget that newspaper clipping.
A reader sent it for my ShowSight column but sickened, I laid it aside.
The AP story was about a Tennessee humane shelter and the photo was deeply
Went on with my day. But the photo haunted
me. A father holding his little boy over a steel dumpster so the child
could drop in a little brown puppy he dangled by one leg. I kept seeing
the puppy struggling upside down, his soft baby ligaments tearing, his big brown
eyes wide with terror as he heard the other dogs wailing. I could imagine
the puppy's gasp as he was released to tumble down into the melee of agony
father's face kept popping into my thoughts. He was grinning!
The little boy was braced against his dad's thigh but held tightly
around the waist so that he could lean way out over the steel bin to
drop the puppy down the chute into the black hole.
Was there an opening in the brick wall so
that the animals dropped into the big dumpster could get "shelter"
inside the block building? Or was the dumpster a cheap death
chamber? When the father lifted the black steel lid it must have
been like grabbing a hot iron.
Thankfully, the child's face was not visible. Didn't matter.
What I saw was a child learning the rules of a society wallowing in
self-centered indulgence, violence, and animal cruelty.
Thoughts tumbled like demons. Sure,
we're a throw-away society. So why not throw away a puppy?
And, stupid me, isn't it perfectly logical that we would dump garbage in
a dumpster? To that family, the unwanted puppy was nothing but
How long could a dog survive in that steel
bin? Hopefully the puppy's little heart would have failed from fright
as he landed among the frantic dogs. The heat-crazed dogs inside
that black bin would dispatch it quickly.
The photo showed a gap of about an inch
around the bottom of the dumping bin. I stared at it, wondering how much
air could come in through that slot, then realized what the air
temperature would be as it radiated off the black asphalt, super-heated
by temperatures in the high nineties, bouncing off the red brick wall of
the "humane society" building.
Surely the dogs (and cats?) thrown in there
would die quickly. That must be the point! Death in the
dumping bin saves money - no gas chamber, injection or whatever else
they might use at that "animal shelter." Thinking... lower
payroll and less care because a rendering plant could just come and pick
up the bodies after the sun had done its work. Surely that's why
this dumpster was hidden out of sight behind the "humane society"?
The reporter said he didn't have long to wait
that Sunday morning. His third paragraph said local people
were working to stop it but that it had been that way for a long time...
My husband found me crying. He made it worse by telling me he had
seen something almost as bad in the next county. A dumping bin
right here in North Carolina? Yes. He hadn't told me.
Didn't want me to know, nothing we could do, the animal shelter was a
good customer for our plumbing company...
drove to the Rutherford County Animal Shelter and took photos. Look closely,
see the signs? The dog or cat must be shoved through the opening to
drop from a height of six feet! Well OK, credit to Rutherford County,
they put signs up so you know not drop a litter of kittens down into the dog
cage. Sure. No kid would think of doing that on a dare or just because he
wanted see the fun…
At least the animals can get air if they survive hitting the pavement and
the mauling that's sure to follow. Bill said if the pet is too big to
lift or shove through the hole, they are usually left tied to the fence.
I called and spoke with Officer Reeves
because the Animal Shelter is operated by the Sheriff's Department. He
assured me pets are "taken inside within a matter of hours, even on the
weekends when the shelter is closed." I didn't ask him how
working people could adopt. Didn't want to interrupt him as he
said the "shelter vet comes three times a week but if the dog or cat is
injured bad enough, the staff is trained and can go ahead and put it to
sleep by lethal injection."
The deputy sounded like a regular guy. A
family man. Protector of the community. Said that part of his job "made
him sick." I asked him how many pets are dumped at the shelter? He said
over 5,000 pets per year. The city and county population is only 56,918
people! That's a 10% pet abandonment rate!
A week of mental torment ended when out of
the blue, I was given the best possible means to fight this.
Politicians, budget managers, idiots; they only listen when their jobs
are in jeopardy! It takes a big voice to get the ear of a corrupt
law-maker. It takes a lot of voters to get an ego-driven politician to
stop stumping long enough to actually do something for the peope whose
vote he seeks.
So now you know how TheDogPlace came to be. I know nothing about
computers but the internet is going public! TheDogPlace will be
the voice of the people and it is the sound of OUTRAGE. It is your
enlightened voice that will serve the dogs, the people, and Projects we
have planned. If ever there could be a shred of good out of
something so horrible, then we owe a callous father and the depraved
officials of one Tennessee town a debt of thanks.
My sanity came back because I found a way to deal with the horror. I
hope you find a way too. Ignoring monsters doesn't make them go
Barbara "BJ" Andrews
Photographer, Bill Andrews
Soon after this was published,
Rutherford County Animal Shelter did away with the dumping area. If you
find something similar in your area, TAKE PHOTOS, get quotes, and report