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Kim Rensch, Fargo, Published October 18 2013

Letter: Treatment of animals speaks to health of overall community

To the dog in Phyllis Jensen’s letter, “Why do some people have a dog” (Sept. 22):

A dog sacrificed his own life to save my grandmother when she was a young woman. Dogs were part of my parents’ household even before I was born. My husband and I met while walking our dogs in the neighborhood. As you can probably tell, your kind has always had a special place in my heart and in my life, so my heart aches when I see beloved animals like you neglected, abused and underappreciated.

Over this past summer, I came across two of your canine brethren locked in cars on some of the hottest, most humid days of the summer. I called the police both times, but there is no law allowing them to rescue those dogs from the furnace in which they found themselves. The best I could do was hope that the embarrassment of having the police – and other dog lovers who came by – lecture them would deter the owners from committing such abominable behavior in the future.

Knowing that someone had to be a voice for those dogs, I contacted city leaders in the hopes of starting a dialogue that would end in a city ordinance giving police the freedom to break your kind out of such miserable scenes, but I have heard no reply. I even contacted a local reporter in the hopes of shedding light on this issue and educating people of the dangers of leaving dogs in cars that, when the temperature outside is 70 degrees, can climb up to 120 degrees within 30 minutes, but again, no response.

How people treat the most vulnerable members of their community speaks volumes about the overall health, both physical and mental, of that community. Locking dogs like you away, ignoring a dog’s basic needs, leaving a dog to slowly perish in a hot car – all of these are symptoms of an unhealthy community.

But, Dog, I wouldn’t count on seeing any new ordinances on the lawbooks anytime soon. It seems that law-abiding, educated young women who try to give a voice to the voiceless are viewed as crackpots, and it’s best just to ignore them so they’ll go away.

But maybe if enough people keep speaking up for you, we will see some changes. You keep hoping, as you look through your cage bars, that one day your owners will wake up, snap a leash on your collar and take you for a good long walk.

And I’ll keep hoping that our city will start treating animals with the dignity all living beings deserve.