Sometimes, I weep for humanity. Sometimes, I am filled with hate and loathing for people. Sometimes, I question my decision to bring a child into the world. Sometimes, I have a heart full of love and hope. Today, I felt all of those at once all because of one little white dog.
It was a normal day here at VBB Hospital. I had finished a busy morning of routine appointments. I guess sometime during the morning's organized chaos a middle aged man came in with his little white dog. The dog was fat, but otherwise looked healthy and normal according to my receptionist and technician. The man said he no longer wanted the dog. My staff gave him the numbers and addresses of several nearby animal shelters and the number to a local “little white dog” rescue group. The man thanked them and left. I had just finished my one scheduled surgery of the day and sat down at my desk to eat lunch, when the staff informed me of an emergency walk-in. The man who walked in was a homeless man, who told them he had no money.
The man who brought the dog in told the following story: He had been panhandling at the freeway ramp, and walked down our way to get some coffee at the gas station. As he was passing by our parking lot, he saw a man viciously kicking and beating this dog. He told the man to stop, but the man would not. The homeless guy offered to by the dog. The man demanded $400.00. Well, the homeless man offered the only money he had, $10.00 he had just gotten by panhandling. The man took the $10.00 and handed his dog over. The homeless man knew our clinic was here, so he brought the little dog in to us. The homeless man had no ID and left after we took the dog with tears in his eyes.
I never saw either man. My technician and I started to work on the little dog, when my other technician said it was the same dog from earlier. The one the first man didn't want. The dog did have a collar and leash, but no tag, or microchip, no way to identify his owner. So, the dog couldn't walk, was covered in grease, and was in obvious respiratory distress. His temperature was 107.4 F (normal is 100 to 102 F). That high of a temperature is extremely dangerous and usually leads to death. We quickly treated him with fluids and cooling, and pain control. I saw no wounds or obvious broken bones. A radiograph showed free air in his abdomen indicating a ruptured bowel. This made the dog's prognosis grave. I decided to humanely euthanize the poor little creature as emergency surgery on a dog who had been in heat stroke wasn't likely to have a good outcome at all.
We did call Animal Control and report the incident. The officers were very nice and professional. They took the body to do a necropsy (doggie autopsy), copies of the radiographs, and the medical record. However, not much chance of anything happening to the man as we don't have any way to identify him.
This whole thing made me so angry! What a senseless act of violence. Why should a little dog suffer like that? Hell, why do kids suffer like that? Then I think of the homeless man giving his only $10.... I don't give money to panhandlers, but maybe it's time for me to rethink my assumptions about people.
People surprise me in all sorts of ways; good, bad, neutral. The world is a wonderful, scarey, evil, and exceedingly beautiful place. I hope some lives are for the better for having intersected with mine. I also hope against hope that karma is real.