Monday, June 23, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Congo and his companions got more accomplished for the good of man in their short lives than most people even dream of accomplishing over their entire lives. Congo, Lucia, Hunter and Bear, thank you for your heroism.
Congo, the magnificent German shepherd from Princeton New Jersey, who became a hero twice last year, first for defending his owner on her own property from a trespasser, and then for getting the law changed in New Jersey to make it more difficult for callous public officials to put dogs to death, was euthanized early this morning along with his family's three other dog companions, simply for being a dog. Congo is now more a hero than he ever was.
As background, in May 2007, a landscaper coming to work at the home of Guy and Elizabeth Kames in Princeton, New Jersey, showed up early for work one day despite being warned not to come onto the property until the family's four German shepherds were put away. (The landscaper spoke no English so apparently did not understand the warning.) While he was on the property, all four of the dogs started to run up to Mrs. James, which freaked out the landscaper. Thinking that the dogs were attacking him, the landscaper grabbed Mrs. James and hid behind her, knocking her down. This, of course, caused Congo and the other three dogs to become protective of their owner, and they did some serious injury him, from which he recovered completely. (He was awarded $250,000 in an insurance claim and has been allowed to stay in the USA.) The Chief of Health in Princeton Township ordered Congo seized and euthanized, an order which the James family appealed. In November 2007, the appellate court agreed to review the case, and ordered that Congo be allowed to stay at home under certain restrictions, which the James family agreed to. In the meantime, the New Jersey legislature passed a law changing the proof required for a municipality to euthanize a dog from a preponderance of the evidence to beyond a reasonable doubt, a move that will spare many dogs unjustified deaths in the future. Also, an international campaign was launched to persuade Governor Jon Corzine of New Jersey to spare Congo, as he was only defending his property and master, which was true. (Blogger, after studying the facts, joined in the campaign at that point, including setting up a blog for Congo.)
Congo stayed at home without incident until April 3rd when, the day before the appeals case was to be heard, the prosecutor agreed to drop the charges if the James agreed to a $250 fine and to erect an electronic fence, which the Guy James agreed to. From April 4th until June 17th, Congo and his companion dogs lived without incident in the James's home, enjoying the company of many people, including friends of the four James children.
Late in the afternoon of June 17th, Constance Ladd, the 75-year-old mother of Elizabeth James who was visiting the James home, was leaving their home through mudroom. As soon as she opened the door, she was greeted by the four dogs with their usual exuberance, i.e., jumping up on her. As Mrs. Ladd was heard telling them to sit down, Elizabeth James went outside to calm down the dogs so her mother could leave. At that point she tried to get between the dogs and Mrs. Ladd, she knocked Mrs. Ladd to the ground, apparently breaking her pelvis. The dogs, not knowing what was going on, continued their exuberance and were all over Mrs. Ladd, scratching her in various places. (Earlier reports of lacerations and puncture wounds were usual press fabrications.)
Mrs. Ladd was hospitalized for her pelvis injury, and, after a report was taken, Guy James knew that whatever the truth was, that he would not be believed and that the law and the bureaucracy were still stacked his dogs. More than stacked against him, he knew that the bureaucrats in the Department of Health were waiting to pounce on Congo or any of James's four dogs at the first sign of any incident because they do not like to be told that they were wrong, as they were in Congo's earlier case. When the police phoned that night asking to come by to take photos of Mrs. Ladd's wounds, he suspected that they would be coming with a court order to seize the dogs and euthanize them, and he was probably right because if Princeton Township is like most municipalities, they shoot first and ask questions later. The best case scenario that Guy James could came up with was that all of his dogs would be impounded for at least a year before he had the chance to plead his case for his dogs, and the best he could hope for this time would be to keep one of them. The worst case would be that all four would be put down by the state, with no one from the James family allowed to be with them when they were executed, and the state refusing them their bodies, the usual procedure in such cases. Faced with these options, even though he knew the truth about his dogs, Guy James made the decision to put all four of his beloved dogs down. The next morning, at 5:00 a.m., he drove to the vets with his dogs and stayed with them until they were euthanized.
Congo became a hero to millions of people last year, and then the unknown hero to many dogs when his owner got the New Jersey law changed to require that municipalities show beyond a reasonable doubt that a dog is dangerous dog. What happened to Congo was inevitable as no dog can make it though life without tripping up once or twice, and the Princeton officials were waiting to pounce on Congo at the first whiff of an incident, which was bound to occur considering the freedom Congo enjoyed. But in the short time he had to escape their death clutches, that dog accomplished more than those bureaucrats will accomplish in a lifetime all together. And were it not for the fact that Congo and his companions had to be sacrificed because of bad laws and callous public officials, one would be tempted to say that Congo outsmarted all of them in the end.
Congo, you are a hero, as are your four companions, Lucia, Hunter and Bear. As long as your memories are alive, we shall all resolve to correct the wrongs that plague our society.
Despite the positive aspects of this story, what a sad, sad story this was, for all parties concerned.
Reflections on Congo and His Companions
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Blogger is not connected with any one involved with Congo's case, and never met Congo or his owners. He is simply someone who is concerned about the plight of animals on our planet, and in cases like Congo, the plight of our animals at the hands of callous and incompetent public officials. Congo's case is a proof of such officials, although it is also proof of competent, compassionate officials, those who set Congo free.
Blogger welcomes all comments to his blogs, although he reserves the right to moderate the comments. Commenters should know in advance, however, that only intelligent value-adding comments will be published regardless of which position taken on the matter. But even if your comment is not published because it has no redeeming value whatsoever, you should know that it does serve as useful purpose for Blogger in that reminds him that people who make such comments actually do exists. Unfortunately, Blogger's world consists mainly of intellectually sophisticated people who hold a variety of opinions and he is not used to associating with people whose minds can best be described as the detritus of human life, so it is good for him to get exposed to the inevitable people who troll the internet looking for places to be heard, because they have no so such place otherwise in their lives, in their families or among their few like-minded friends.
Monday, June 16, 2008
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