Casual cruelty

I hate to be The Grinch at this holiday season, but two things happened this week in my home state of Kentucky that just break my heart. They’re atrocious enough to stay with me for a long time.

The first was a situation I ran into on a drive from Louisville to eastern KY. I stopped in Mt. Sterling to fill my tank and pick up some light groceries requested by my dad. Parked right outside the little market was an SUV with an odd-looking container stuck on the rear. Upon closer inspection I found two freezing dogs in a small wire cage attached to the back of the vehicle. It was 37 degrees outside, light cold rain, and I could only imagine how cold it got when the vehicle was in motion. The two hounds barked and yelped when they saw me, as if to say “help”. I noticed they were raising their paws one by one to keep them off the cold wire as much as they could. Their wire cage was locked tight.

I was intensely angry but determined to try and help. I asked around inside the station for the owner of the vehicle, but no one claimed it. I spoke with the cashier to ask him to call the Sheriff and report cruelty to animals. He said he would but he also said it would do no good, that this was normal for “coon hunters” in the area. (This is definitely not a racial term, it’s an Appalachian tradition of using dogs to chase, track and tree raccoons. In my experience it’s just an excuse to sit by a campfire, drink and listen to the hounds bay during the chase. But this barbaric method of transporting the dogs was something I’d never seen.)

I made one more attempt to find the vehicle owner, to no avail. I briefly considered breaking the lock and freeing the dogs, but that had other potentially negative consequences for me and for them. So I stood with them for a minute, couldn’t even pet them through the wire, and left with a heavy heart. I believe the clerk did in fact call the Sheriff, but I have no idea if he responded. I’ve thought of those dogs a lot since then.

The second bit of cruelty was national news on CNN today. Someone shot and killed at least 14 horses near a strip mine on the Floyd/Pike county border, just 20-30 miles from where I was born. No apparent motive, just more casual cruelty and evil.

At times like these it feels like mankind is a plague on the planet. And I know that people exist in the complete spectrum from angelic to evil, but evil feels awfully front and center these days.

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