02/07/09 — Unprotected: Someone has to watch out for animals, punish neglect

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Unprotected: Someone has to watch out for animals, punish neglect

Their faces were dirty and many of them shivered in fear as they were picked up and removed from the less-than-desirable conditions in which they were living.

In some cases, their conditions reflected years of relentless breeding, but little personal attention or care.

The 300 animals who were pulled from Thornton Kennels Friday have not yet had their day in court -- and neither has their owner. So, now is not the time to be passing judgment on what actually went on at the Grantham-area address -- and if there is a law to punish the kind of treatment the dogs and puppies found there.

But let's hope there is. And if there isn't, let's make sure that one is enacted sooner rather than later.

What is so sad about a case like this is that these animals started off as happy, cute puppies, thinking they were with someone they could love and trust.

After years of at best neglect and at worst abuse, they look much older than their years, sad and without hope.

And that is why this type of operation should be a crime in North Carolina.

Many of you who will read this today are proud owners of pets yourselves. They probably are as much a part of your family and your family's memories as your children or your significant other.

So it could not have been easy to look at the pictures from Friday's raid -- or to think about how many dogs there are in this country who will meet the same fate.

But now is not the time to turn away. Now is the time to do something.

This is not the place to try the Thornton Kennels case. A judge and a courtroom are necessary for that.

But as we continue to follow the case, it should raise questions about what kind of county and state we want to be -- and when an issue is important enough for us to stand up and say "no more."

The animals taken from the alleged puppy mill now have a chance at a future. Some might be too far gone to be able to live normal lives with loving families, but others can find people who will love and care for them for the rest of their lives.

It is up to us now to speak for them and the thousands of other dogs in the same predicament.

We are their voices -- and, hopefully, their salvation.

If you are a dog lover, you are needed now, not just to donate to help care for these dogs as they continue on the road to recovery, but to make sure someone hears their story and does something about it.

Don't pick now to look away -- and make sure others don't either.

Published in Editorials on February 7, 2009 11:19 PM