For years I hid behind the lens and a twenty yard stare, racing from wreckage to spectacle with the same lack of concern in my eye. These days however, I cannot pretend I don't care like I once could, especially when confronted with such evidence of malevolence. Meet 'Chamberlin', a hapless lab mix who, until very recently, was left chained to a tree in High Point. For at least two months he laid there, until his limbs constricted and his muscles atrophied. Animal Control Officers found him in an abandoned yard three weeks ago, along with another mutt so forgotten, so withered, so delirious - authorities had no choice but to end his pain. The grim discovery made headlines and led newscasts, competing with another equally queasy animal abuse case involving a burned puppy. I caught it all out of the corner of my eye, but managed to avoid close contact with the atrocity of the week by wrapping myself in a protective bubble of soft news.
That is, until today,
You ever hovered over a neglected pet as animal techs worked his diminished limbs back and forth, back and forth, back and forth? It's enough to make you drop any pretense of cynicism as you hold a tight shot of the creature's plaintive stare, enough to make you pity people who say there's no real evil in this world, enough to make you sit in your car for a good fifteen minutes before cranking up the engine and driving away in silence. This isn't my first brush with animal abuse. I've ridden along with dog catchers as they collected cadavers, watched other officers wrangle hoarded cats from apartment buildings, seen horses so underfed you could trace their internal organs. I've negotiated those cases with an unhealthy dose of indifference. Sure, it made me sad, but I always found a way to stave off the knavery. It helped that I wasn't much of an animal person myself, having never really had a pet that forged that kind of visceral connection with another species' soul.
Then my bride brought home this guy and everything changed.
Now I find myself rolling on the floor with a certain pooch, slinging nicknames and kisses as the world's silliest poodle mix tries to prove to me he's a total bad-ass. This wiggly addition to the Pittmans has enriched my life (and marriage) in more ways than I could ever have imagined. Why it took me 43 years to forge a bond with an animal is complicated of course. Just know that the reasons melted away whenever the little yapper we call 'Ollie' first put his head on my knee and looked up pleadingly. that's just the look Chamberlin gave me today as his caregivers praised his every push across the floor in a specially made canine cart. I managed to keep my eyes dry as I twisted the glass, but the sight of this dog's broken body seared into my vision, as if I'd witnessed all those other animal abuse cases behind protective goggles. Still, I stuck with it, knowing my efforts would result in another update and give my station another reason to spell out the names of the couple thought responsible for laying waste to this innocent creature...
High Point residents Nellie Brock and Wilbert Morrison Junior, both 55, stand accused of abandoning Chamberlin. Won't you e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and ask that they receive the maximum penalty?
I just did.