For most of my adult life I’ve been involved in causes that advance the humane treatment of animals. My introduction to the very existence of such causes was some graphic film footage I happened to see on television sometime in the early 1970s; it was about whitecoat baby seals. It really jolted me and opened up my heart to the needs and sufferings of other beings. So letter-writing, sign-carrying, radio PSAs, whatever, became a part of my life’s activity. During the 1990s, I edited and published Janna Publications (named for a little rescued dog and the brand-new friend who helped with the rescue). It was a newsletter, sprinkled with my hand-drawn illustrations and articles about various animal-related issues. I still have a box of the back issues, if anyone would like any of them. Most of the items covered are relevant today.
For ten years (October of 1993 to early 2004), I promoted, booked, and presented a humane education program that I had scripted. I traveled to classrooms in all of the schools in Knox and contiguous counties, all grade levels. I also went to the various locations of the Boys & Girls Clubs and Park & Recreation sites, presenting the program on behalf of an area non-profit organization. Kids and teachers were enthusiastic about it. Soon I was also speaking at adult civic organizations, responding to calls of college students who had chosen an animal topic for a paper and were requesting my help and to several requests for pet bereavement counseling. Many aspects of the work were gut-wrenching, but, overall, the work was very meaningful and fulfilling and I was able to pour a lot of passion into it. I have boxes of letters, posters, drawings, and cards from kids, teachers, and scout leaders, that were sent to me over the years.
This past week, I was reminded of how much of that identity remains with me. On Saturday, Jerry rushed into the house during his lunch break and excitedly told me he had an emergency that needed my help. I went outside and, there in the back of his pickup truck, was a dog – a chihuahua – unconscious. He explained how he’d seen a driver in a maroon Mercedes hit the dog about three blocks away. The driver did not stop. Jerry had looked and noticed that, although the dog's eyes were closed and she at first appeared to not be alive, she was breathing so he stopped and held up traffic in both directions while he picked her up and put her in his truck. She looked pitiful, bleeding from one ear and eye and with several injured spots on her head. She was either pregnant or had given birth; she had no collar or ID. I gave Jerry some towels to put around her and then rushed into the house and telephoned the nearest vet’s office. I was matter-of-factly told that they were about to close and I’d need to call an emergency clinic. I repeated my request for help and was told to "hold on", which I did until another country song played and I realized no one was returning to the phone. The emergency clinic took my information, recited their initial charges, and said they’d be expecting me. When I went back outside, all of a sudden the little dog regained consciousness and began frantically running around the back of the truck trying to jump out, not letting us get near her (she was terrified, growling, and definitely ready to administer a bite or two). We tossed a padded quilt over her and Jerry carefully wrapped her in it so he could transfer her to the back of my truck, which has a closed back. I adjusted the tailgate so she would have ventilation and then I called City Animal Control. I was thankful for having been put on that rude, eternal hold by the vet’s office because, if I’d put her on the front seat of my truck and started driving to the emergency clinic as I’d planned, she would have regained consciousness beside me in the truck. Jerry left to go back to work and an AC officer soon came. As gently as she could under the circumstances, she manuevered the little dog into a cage in her truck and told me she would drive by the area where I’d told her the dog had been hit, to see if the owner could be located, since veterinary care was needed. Beyond that, of course, the dog was bound for the animal shelter, an evaluation, and possible vet care. I did suspect that there was internal injury and bleeding so she may have had to be euthanized.
The circumstances reminded me of the portion of my humane education program where I’d tell kids and adults that animal control officers have "a very hard job". A very hard job, indeed. This particular lady remarked that this was her "second one today who has been hit" (by a vehicle).
Also remembered were the things I used to say about animals being abandoned and left to the fates, without any ID or means of obtaining food or protecting themselves from traffic, the elements, larger animals, and even some mean person. The little dog has reaffirmed that part of my identify that I carried proudly during the years I passionately delivered my program, as humane education director.
Please contact me if you would like any of my Janna Publications back issues. I also have a limited quantity of other pro-animal literature.