Watch Tip: Watch and Listen

Posted on June 26th, 2010 by Anna Nirva

Weekly Watch Tip for week of June 27:

Listen and watch for pets abandoned in empty homes, apartments, and empty buildings. Continual or persistent cries, barks and whines are signs of dogs or cats needing your help. A dog or cat is likely trapped and suffering. You may be the only one who hears.

My annual vigil for Sunbear starts July 1 … will you join me?

Sunbear’s owner called Sunbear into the laundry room, turned out the light and shut the door. Next to the door he put the 20 lb. bag of Sunbear’s dog food for the family who had casually agreed to adopt him. ¬†That family had changed its mind but communication broke down. And so it began as the front door slammed. Sunbear was trapped in that dark little room without water and food until August 11.

Sunbear’s owner walked out that day thinking about his new job far away, not about the trusting heartbeat in the laundry room. He had disposed of his dog and he didn’t miss him. He didn’t wonder how Sunbear was adapting to his new family as days and weeks passed. He was just too busy. And Sunbear waited and waited and waited. He watched the crack between the door and the floor brighten in the mornings and slowly dim in the evenings. He heard the neighbors and cars driving by. He smelled the creek outside and the dog food by the door. For 42 days he waited. While he starved.

One of the most common forms of animal suffering is accidental or intentional confinement without sufficient food and water. The press frequently reports on trapped, suffering animals found in garages, basements, apartments, barns. Recently in Southwest Wisconsin, two golden terrier mix dogs were found trapped in the feces-filled¬†bedroom of a city home. Their negligent owner had been in jail in another state for over a week and she didn’t make attempts to get care for her dogs.

Luckily, an alert and caring neighbor noticed that the owner had not been home for some time and knew the owner had dogs. Concerned for their well-being, the neighbor called the authorities to ask them to check the home. Her phone call saved those dogs. After the officers arrived, they provided water to the starving, dehydrated dogs. One skittish dog was coaxed from her hiding place with a bowl of water, which because of her poor condition was promptly vomited back up. This story had a happy ending for the dogs.

Sunbear didn’t live near such a wonderful neighbor. No one called the authorities to check on his welfare, and he died three days after being accidentally found when his owner’s former girlfriend visited the townhouse to pick up some things.

Please join me in my 6 week vigil for Sunbear starting July 1. Light a brown candle (or any color, but Sunbear was a Chocolate Labrador Retriever) nightly until August 11, and send a prayer out to trapped, starving dogs and cats everywhere that they will soon be saved, or at the very least, lovingly mourned by someone when remains are found.

And please always watch and listen for trapped animals!

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