Sunday, December 13, 2015

Eyes of the world

 Once again the eyes of the world are focused on the town of Shawnee Oklahoma. This time however, they are not viewing it in a favorable light.
 On Friday morning, four short days after the long awaited announcement that a date for the removal of the gas chamber would finally be announced in early 2016, animal control gassed to death three dogs. Three young, healthy, friendly and highly adoptable dogs were cruelly pushed into a small metal box. After a few minutes of confusion and fear, those dogs began to realize they couldn't breathe. Once they began the slow process of suffocation, the fear and the cries became overwhelming, scratching frantically at the door they were just pushed through, they cried pitifully with the last breath in their lungs as their organs began to shut down and death finally came. This process can take up to 40 minutes.
 The world is now wondering why this happened. The shelter was not full, the dogs weren't killed for space. These three dogs were in the shelter since December 3rd and 4th, for at least three of the days between December 3rd and December 11th the Shawnee animal control website was down, giving the animals in the shelter  no exposure. One of the dogs had a definite rescue commitment, he was to be pulled Friday morning and put in boarding until transportation to his wonderful new life in Colorado was arranged. Animal control was aware of this . They were informed by the small group of local rescuers who are in that shelter daily. This is the same group of rescuers who have been clearing the shelter of animals in immediate danger EVERY FRIDAY for the last six months. Animal control was also very aware of this fact, the other dogs would have been pulled that same day. Typically if any animals are to be gassed it happens at the end of the day on Friday, this frees up space for animals coming in over the weekend. Last Friday, for some reason was different, very different.
The question now being asked around the world is why? A lot has been happening around the community of Shawnee lately, the animal lovers of the world have been paying attention to the small city for a while now. The fight to get rid of the gas chamber has been going on for years, in Shawnee and the rest of the state. Last February's announcement that Shawnee would remove the gas chamber was met with cheers from animal lovers everywhere! Nothing else has been mentioned since then.
 Recently it was announced that a protest would be held at the Shawnee shelter, freedom of assembly and the right to protest is a fundamental right of all Americans and a great way to draw attention to the plight of Shawnee's animals. The animal lovers of Shawnee were united and inspired to go to last weeks city commissioners meeting where they spoke about the issues at the Shawnee shelter. Of course the removal of the gas chamber was brought up, prompting a response from the city manager, he stated that they were working on it and expected to announce a date for its removal by early 2016. The animal lovers of the world celebrated this announcement! 
The animal control officers of Shawnee Oklahoma are NOT animal lovers however. It seems that they were not happy with any of the recent attention directed at the Shawnee shelter. Apparently they chose to express their displeasure by gassing the three innocent dogs on Friday. This act of retaliation has not gone unnoticed, more attention than ever is directed at Shawnee. This attention, of course, is not positive, inspiring everything from death threats to claims of evidence that will show the animal control officers are guilty of animal cruelty. Animal cruelty is now a federal offense, the FBI plans to track animal cruelty cases starting in 2016. Anyone making such claims better have irrefutable evidence.
 What started out as such a positive week in Shawnee has ended on a miserable note. Three innocent dogs are dead. Hatred and threats directed towards the city of Shawnee and its animal control officers are everywhere, and this is just the beginning. A rally and protest are slated for the end of the week, with all the negative attention focused on Shawnee we know the world will be watching. My question is what happens next? Will we be witnessing the unnecessary deaths of animals weekly ? Daily? Will this war escalate with the animals paying the ultimate price, or will the city of Shawnee and its animal control officers give up the power trip and work with the world to make Shawnee better for everyone, especially the animals?