Tenderize Their Hearts, Lord
By Janice Price
The morning after tearfully burying my seventeen-year-old cat, I was e-mailed a story I would still have trouble believing if I was not already aware cruel people can exist anywhere, including in positions of authority.
In early July, a city supervisor in Jourdanton, Texas ordered two animal shelter employees to dispose of several “sickly” shelter dogs while their veterinarian was on vacation. The workers carried out their assignment.
The city claims there were only five dogs. A teenager doing community service who witnessed the incident says there were more than five. The teenager was so affected by what he witnessed, he told his mother, and the city of Jourdanton is now internationally infamous, under scrutiny from the press, the District Attorney’s office and the State Health Department. Because of public outrage, the extensive publicity and the possibility of criminal charges being filed, this supervisor is no longer allowed to work with animals.
“Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human lives.” – Albert Schweitzer
What is so horrendous about this? The employees put the dogs into cages, carried them next door to the sewage plant and dropped the cages into the city sewage system. Yes, these animals were drowned in raw sewage. (This story can be verified at by doing a Google search of “Jourdanton dog drownings” or at http://archive.mail-list.com/petwarmers/msg00505.html )
For every beast of the forest is Mine (God’s), And the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine, and all its fullness. Psalm 50:10-12
And as for the dogs being “sickly” (as if that would be any excuse)? Well, they had such strength they broke out of their cages and the workers had to use snares to hold them under the sewage for “a couple of minutes.”
"He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." – Immanuel Kant
During an interview, a city official tried to dodge the bullet by claiming this was the only such incident. “You can take my word for it,” he insisted. When pressed, he finally admitted there was no record made of the disposition of these dogs. These animals in their care simply “disappeared.” The only animal deaths they record are those killed and billed by their veterinarian.
So there remains the debated question over whether this was the first and only time this happened. The claim is made that this was not an isolated incident, and no amount of tap dancing by officials has been convincing enough to warrant trust in the city’s disclaimer. How many dogs have died in this cruel manner – and what about cats and other small animals?
"Cruelty has cursed the human family for countless ages. It is almost impossible for one to be cruel to animals and kind to humans. If children are permitted to be cruel to their pets and other animals, they easily learn to get the same pleasure from the misery of fellow-humans. Such tendencies can easily lead to crime." – Fred A. McGrand
In Texas, animals can be “euthanized” in one of two ways and drowning them —especially in sewage — is not one of them. What occurred was an overt act of cruelty to animals, whether or not they were “strays.” Perhaps the fact that this has surfaced in the media will cause other towns and individuals to think twice about breaking the law in such a manner, but the death threats the city officials have been receiving are as heinous as the cruel crime.
The fact that, after this was brought to light, the city manager issued a written slap on the wrist for the supervisor and assumed the issue could be closed set a bad example for today's youth. If adults are cruel to animals — and get paid for it, no less — they validate cruelty as a casual circumstance of life. There is nothing casual or appropriate about cruelty.
"The tendency to cruelty should be watched in children and if they incline to any such cruelty, they should be taught the contrary usage. For the custom of tormenting and killing other animals will, by degrees, harden their hearts even toward man. Children should from the beginning be brought up in an abhorrence of killing or tormenting living beings." – John Locke
Cruelty is often a means of having control and expressing anger toward something smaller or more helpless than oneself. Children are not born abusive; they learn and mimic cruelty. Animal Control workers are often taught to report animal abuse, as it can indicate child abuse in a home.
"One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it." – Anthropologist Margaret Mead
I’m not saying these city workers were animal abusers as children, but I do not imagine they just woke up one morning and decided it was going to be fun to torture helpless animals entrusted to their charge that day. Neither do I imagine that if this was the first time, it would be the last if a furor was not raised.
After reading about the dogs, my friend, Evelyn, wrote, “There's much cruelty we are not aware of, but when we learn of it, to sit by and do nothing is cruelty too.” Cruelty should never be condoned or swept under the rug, whether it is against animals, children or adults.
I pray for those responsible for this and for other atrocious behavior — whether against an animal entrusted to someone’s care, a child, a spouse or a stranger — and I know many others are praying for such situations too. Unfortunately, cruelty will continue to exist in this present age, as there are those who have not come to understand the saving grace of God, nor will some ever accept it. But through His Son Jesus Christ, God is able to change those who have shown cruelty toward any of His creation, if they turn to Him, desiring to have their hearts tenderized.
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:26-27
© 2005 Janice Price