Last Friday, May 3rd, I came upon a horrifying act of animal cruelty. I volunteer at the Colville Valley Animal Sanctuary and as I was driving down my private road, I saw a hunting dog walking towards me with his head hanging to one side and moving with a stumbling gait. Recognizing that the dog was injured, I stopped my car and approached him. Even though he must have been in terrible pain from a badly infected head injury, he came towards me and let me gently lift him into the back of my car without any aggressive behavior. After an examination at Colville Animal Hospital, I was told he had been shot. There was extensive damage and they did not feel that he would be able to live a normal life even with expensive treatment. He was humanely euthanized. That evening my neighbors told me that on Monday, April 29th, they had heard a gunshot followed by a dog’s scream on the hill behind our homes. That means that this dog lived in agony for four days before I found it.
In an article in the Spokesman Review on January 27 – about the absence in Stevens County of any county-wide animal control – entitled, “Rescuers in Waiting”, Commissioner Don Dashiell is quoted as saying, “Eighty percent of this county never calls the sheriff for animal control issues. They handle it themselves.” He goes on to say that the animals are often “terminated somehow” by county citizens when there is an issue. Although most residents of our community pride themselves on safe and responsible gun use and would track a wounded deer’s blood-trail to humanely finish the hunt, some scoundrel did not give this dog that humane service.
It was apparent to me during my time with the dog that he was not a threat to me. Was he a chicken killer? Was he lost or dumped (which happens all too often) and wandered onto someone’s property? Did someone have too many dogs? For none of these reasons would the dog have had to be exterminated. The Colville Valley Animal Sanctuary would have been happy to take this dog in, and find him a suitable home.
In his Prosecutor’s Corner article of March 13, Stevens County Prosecuting Attorney, Tim Rasmussen writes, “It is odd to me that we hear more about the ethical treatment of animals than we hear about the ethical treatment of children.” Could it be, Mr. Rasmussen, that is because there are dozens of county and state employees and probably millions of dollars at work in this county doing the hugely important job of protecting children. As a former CASA volunteer, I know there are also dozens of volunteers. But, how many dollars and employees are there in this county to prevent cruelty to animals? Very few.
I have a lot of respect for our county commissions and how difficult it is for them to balance the budget every year. Perhaps they need to hear, though, in a calm and rational way from those of us who would like to see some county dollars going to provide for animal rescue.
Meanwhile, volunteers and donations are greatly needed at the Colville Valley Animal Sanctuary where 150 dogs and 620 cats were rescued in 2012, and we expect to break those numbers in 2013.
Here is some contact information.
Stevens County Government website: http://www.co.stevens.wa.us/ County Commissioners District 1 - Wes McCart - Vice President District 2 - Don Dashiell - Chairman District 3 - Steve Parker Phone# 509-684-3751 Fax# 509-684-8310 Location - Old AVISTA building - 230 E. Birch Street Colville, Wa. 99114 Email address: Commissioners@co.stevens.wa.us