Thursday, April 19, 2007

For Friday ARK
The phone rings and I rush around looking for the handset. I find it just before the answering machine picks up saying, "Hi, you've reached Old Maid's Aerie and the home of Rosie's Cocker Rescue Referral...." There are dogs barking in the background of my message. My dogs are very jealous of the time I spend on the phone and they always seem to find occasion to bark. So my outgoing message barks at you.

"Hello? Are you the cocker spaniel lady?"

The voice is soft. And stressed. You know how you can sort of tell how people are emotionally by how they sound over the phone? They actually tell people who work in customer service to "make" like they are smiling when they talk. Those people never listen.

She sounds bad. But most people sound bad when they call me for help. I get worried if they don't.

"Yes, that's me. How can I help you?" I ask, sounding calm.

The tears start to flow over the phone line. The sad story emerges as it has so many times before. It's not a new story. It's a story that we in rescue hear all too often.

The woman is in a domestic abuse situation. The abuser is abusing the family pet as a way to extract the maximum amount of damage to her and the children. Because the bastard knows how much she loves the much those kids love the dog.

She is calling me because she is prepared to give up this family member rather than see it kicked, beaten or mistreated any longer. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine facing that sort of choice?

I tell her what I need. I need photos and the various stats on the dog. I need her to email this information to me so that I can put an alert out.

The sad thing is, I rarely hear back from these women. I don't know what happens. She has either stayed in the situation and the dog has been killed by the abuser or she's surrendered it to the animal shelter. Anything rather than have the abuse continue.

So when I get an email from Bethany Poe, a graduate student with UT's College of Social Work, letting me know about Tennessee Senate Bill 0196 and House Bill 1161 which would allow women who want to leave domestic violence situations to include their pets under their Order of ears pricked up.

'Cause, I gotta tell you...I don't want to ever get another one of these phone calls ever again. I don't want to be the person standing between the anguish and the agony of a family facing this choice. Protecting these non-human family members shouldn't be in question. Did we learn nothing from Katrina? Did we learn nothing from the people who died rather than leave their non-human family members behind? Did we learn nothing from the dogs and cats who died in those attics along with their people? I don't see this as being too much different.

If you are in Tennessee or a Tennessee blogger, I urge you to spread the word about these bills.

This bill is a huge step in domestic violence laws. As many of us know first hand, pets are an important of families. Abuse of those animals doesn't just affect the animals themselves, but also the family members who love them. Abuse of these pets is also a form of abuse to those who love them.
Please contact the following committee members to take action.

Rep. Mark Maddox, Chair

Glen Casada,

Barbara Cooper,

Richard Floyd,

Sherry Jones,

Donna Rowland ,

Johnny Shaw,

For more information about the bill, please follow this link to the American
Humane website. This link will also let you send an email to your senator
based upon your address.

Brochure on the interconnectivity and features of pet abuse within the context of domestic abuse.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact:

Bethanie Poe
Sarah Gwaltney
Jen Holmes
Carolyn Burton Williams

at UT's College of Social Work.


  1. Anne Johnson said...
    I think the Tennessee Guerilla Women will want to hear about this. Their blog is in the Appalachian Greens web site.
    Rosie said...
    TGW was one of the first to know when I got the alert. I'm a huge fan of TGW. I read them daily though I rarely feel smart enough to post comments.

    They are all so articulate and somehow..."Yeah...what s/he said!" falls a bit flat.
    johnieb said...

    Lawd, Rosie: how smart do you think you have to be to post with the likes of me and Sadie, for gawd's sake!

    You are an accomplished woman, a fine writer, and you know all kinds of kewl shit; don't be shy or I'll be tempted to go in after yo recluse ass and bring ya out for the party.

    What party? The one in honor of you showing up, if there's no other reason. And thanks for the kind words about our front porch and the nice folk over to AG. Does "Elvis" use his name there? I can't remember.
    johnieb said...
    I can't let such false modesty stand, unless ya don't want to come right out and say ya love yer critters more than us. Good choice, but we'd still like to see and hear ya more.

    You're a better writer than most, if not all, the people who regularly post there, (present company most definitely included) and you know I'm paying attention when ya finally show up.

    So spread that around if ya want--it's yer blog, huh?--but don't expect me to stop going around after ya with the raspberry.
    Rosie said...
    Oh, flatter really do. I'm just not the political storehouse of wisdom you guys all are. Yes, I'm a social chameleon and I know my way around a beginning, middle and end, but I get most of my news from The Daily Show. And I'm a slow thinker. By the time I form a solid opinion or a cogent thought about something it's usually old news. Most of the time when I comment on TGW, it's an issue I've already thought out.

    I usually call folks by their blog names unless told otherwise. So I call Elvis, Elvis.

    No raspberries required.
    johnieb said...
    Maybe flattery works; there are two posts this morning. heh.
    Rosie said...
    No...JohnieB...that's guilt. Guilt works real good with me.

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