Friday, February 15, 2013


Last Friday night, I had a Snow Party.  It was snowing, beautiful clingy snow that draped itself on everything, making it look like Wonderland.  I made a pot of stew, baked bread, took out some nice crisp apples, lit scented candles and put on Celtic music.  Then my dogs and I had a Snow Party.  We were in our Happy Place.

Some nights aren’t so happy.  Those are the ones I spend online doing animal rescue work.  Occasionally I post results on Facebook or my blog, but I keep those posts upbeat—cute puppy pictures, dogs rescued or adopted.  People don’t want to see the seamy underside of rescue—the suffering and death—so for the most part I keep that to myself. 

Occasionally, though, you get a request you feel duty-bound to pass along.  A gruesome photo of animal abuse came in with a request to share, because it was the only photo of the incident that showed the faces of the perpetrators.  Authorities are finding Facebook one of the most effective tools for tracking these monsters worldwide, so I posted it with a request that anyone knowing their whereabouts contact police.

A couple of people responded negatively, one demanding that I remove the photo and another asking if there wasn’t another way to contact the “right” people. 

Like the majority of writers I don’t believe in censorship, and we—collectively--ARE the right people.

Once upon a time, you looked at the Most Wanted list at your post office.  With the world made smaller by travel and technology, social media sites are the new post office.  There’s no going back to the good old days and they weren’t good.  Those pictures only showed the most wanted criminals—people who had hit the end of the road—people not stopped at the point where some of them were “only” torturing and killing animals, before they had moved on to bigger game.  That bigger game is us.

We had a clear illustration of this in my community. On an abandoned railroad track behind my property, someone began leaving carcasses of farm animals. They had not died a natural death.  Old stockmen shrugged it off.  Farmers were just dumping downed animals, they said.  But two of us with medical and psychiatric training became seriously alarmed by what we were seeing and called the state police.  They did as much as they could in a rural area, but within a short time we had the reports I was expecting.  A woman was assaulted in her own yard; fortunately, passing motorists came to her assistance and her assailant made his get-away.  We assume it was the same man who later exposed himself to two women walking their dog in a county park.  The dog attacked and once more he escaped. 

Was I surprised?  No.  THOSE WHO ABUSE ANIMALS ABUSE HUMANS.  Usually their targets are the most vulnerable:  women and children.  Thank God we have had no incidents involving children.  But with events like Sandy Hook fresh in our minds, how can we ignore threats to our society?  There were four men in the photo I posted.  How many wives, girlfriends, pets and children are at their mercy? One abuser previously apprehended through Facebook photos worked in security.  The man was carrying a gun.  His three-year-old child was in the photos, watching everything.  What would you do to stop a thing like that?  What should you do?

I love Snow Parties, my blog and Facebook page.  I visit pages of friends and acquaintances on Facebook and they are often delightful, visually appealing and creative spaces with wonderful photos, philosophy, poetry…cheerful and charming pages.   They are Happy Places.  Even if I don’t actually know those people, I  envision them as nice, decent women who nurture families, take meals to shut-ins, read to children at libraries, do the myriad little things that form the weft and warp of our society.   I can understand why they are so distressed by a graphic photo and ask if I can’t make it go away.

No.  I can’t.  I respect the rights and feelings of those who do--who can block or hide my posts--and not for a moment do I underestimate their importance to our decent, civilized society.  They are decent, civilized people and we sorely need them.  But we need other people, too.  I can handle the tough stuff.  Not to do so, at its worst, invites the sort of disaster represented by Sandy Hook.  Everyone looked away until it was too late.

We must each of us do as our conscience dictates.   I like Happy Places.  But, Heaven help me, I can’t live in one.


  1. Well said! This is where advocates for change comes from.I do the same on pinterest.

  2. The best dog I ever had was a rescue. I'll tell you the full story one day, Miriam, but the short version is this: One day, I came home to find a badly beaten and starved dog laying at my doorstep. Literally. I had no idea where she came from or how she came to be at my door, but I took her in and nursed her back to health. She rarely left my side after that and lived with me until she died. I still get misty-eyed when I think of her.

    Cyber hugs to you for your kindness to animals.


  3. A beautiful post, Miriam. Some of us are moved beyond words at these things but don't always know what to do about it. I admire people who rescue and fight the evildoers.

  4. Adele, some guardian angel knew where to send that dog. They always know when you've saved them.

    Jane, thanks. There's a village of people out there fighting hard against animal abuse. It's just a little frustrating sometimes when well-intentioned people get in the way. Public disclosure is one of the few weapons we have. Censoring that is only hurting the very animals for which you're feeling such pain.

  5. Good post, Miriam. Sooner or later I think people wake up from their happy place. Some go right back there, and some don't. Those who don't try and do what is right. I think Facebook is a great way to uncover some of the vermin out there. As you said, and has been pointed out many times before, sociopaths start out abusing and killing animals, and they go on to people. And there aren't one or two, there are many out there.

  6. Exactly, Gerri. And as much as I want to be considerate of the more sensitive individuals among us, this work has to be done. Facebook has been an incredible tool in animal rescue and there's an added benefit to people when it helps expose and contain dangerous individuals among us.

  7. Here's an interesting P.S. Yesterday Facebook had a photo deliberately made viral of a pit bull killed by an 18 year old boy in Oklahoma who then posted a photo of the dead dog on Facebook taunting "pit bull lovers" to come get him. They did. There has been an uproar reaching as far as England and massive protest and petitioning forcing his county of residence--which has long known he has a history of sadistic animal abuse--to take some action. He's a high school basketball star. Need I say more? Shades of Michael Vick. The outcome is uncertain, of course, but what if the protests of a handful of people had kept that photo from being posted and shared? I didn't post it due to complaints I received previously, cutting off an additional outlet of public exposure that could have helped this young man be brought to justice and added signatures to a petition being sent to the county's district attorney. The perpetrator demonstrates no remorse for what he did and is quoted as saying, "What do I have to do to make this go away?" A lot of serial killers have said the same thing. Most of them started on their path by killing animals. We don't dare let this stuff "go away." Oddly enough, the boy's statement reminds me of one of the complaints I received from someone who clearly thought if she threatened me she could make my post go away. Interesting, isn't it?

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