DUMPING BINS - THE CATALYST
I'll never forget that newspaper clipping.
A reader had sent it for my ShowSight column but sickened, I laid
it aside. The AP story was about a Tennessee humane shelter with a pet dumping bin.
The photo was gruesomely disturbing.
Barbara J. Andrews,
TheDogPlace, Sept. 1998
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 death wails of
the other dogs. I could imagine the puppy's gasp as he was released
to tumble down into the melee of agony below.
The 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.
Had his father
lifted the black steel lid over the puppy-sized opening? It must have been like grabbing a hot iron.
Maybe the photographer caught this shot in the morning...
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 garbage.
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 angry, 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 reported temperatures in the high
nineties, bouncing off the 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
The reporter had
received a tip and said he didn't have long to wait that Sunday morning.
His third graf 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...
Bill 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 over 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 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 sure to follow.
Bill said if
the pet is too big to lift or shove through the hole, they are usually left tied to
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 constituents whose vote he seeks.
So now you know how TheDogPlace came to be. I know nothing about computers
but the internet is here! 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 away.
Barbara "BJ" Andrews
Photographer, Bill Andrews
after this was published, Rutherford County Animal Shelter did away with
the dumping area. Now, if and when they are open, you can dump animals
in the office. If you find something similar in your area, TAKE
PHOTOS, get quotes, and report it to