Hurricane Ethics: The Ultimate Betrayal

I can’t bear those photos of abandoned and abused animals, so here’s the never abused  Marshall dog, Rugby. He can trust us. (OK, we can’t always trust him, but he’s a Jack Russell. He has our informed consent to be unreliable.)

Authorities in Palm Beach County, Florida discovered dozens of dogs  left behind by owners who evacuated in advance of Hurricane Irma, leaving the pets tied up or trapped in cages or pens without any means to escape or survive the storm. Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control was able to rescue 40 such dogs before the storm struck Florida.  Director Dianne Sauve told USA Today that in cases where she can identify owners of these abused animals, she would press felony charges for animal cruelty. “There is absolutely no excuse” for leaving the dogs like that, she said, noting that there are two shelters that allow residents to bring pets along with them.

I don’t comprehend how a human being could do this to an animal that they have accepted the responsibility of caring for. The conduct is an ultimate betrayal of reliance and trust. Dogs always fulfill their ends of the ancient agreement between them and people. They provide companionship, unconditional love, support and comfort in exchange for care and shelter. Abandoning a dog like this—“Hey, what’s the big deal? They’re only animals!”—represents such a basic failure of responsibility, fairness, kindness and caring that no one who betrays a dog so heinously should be trusted in any other field of endeavor or social context. If you don’t respect the lives of animals, that’s fine, but then don’t have pets. Don’t make an animal love you, and then leave it to die in fear and pain. How hard is that?

The owners of the pets rescued by Palm Beach authorities will not get them back. Good. An official record of abandoning a dog may also stop animal adoption agencies from allowing such individuals to adopt  another. We have to work on eliminating the “may.” A felony conviction for this flagrant cruelty should place a big red “B’ on the chest of every pet owner who treated a trusting member of the family this way. I know: “it’s not the worst thing.” After all, it’s not as if these awful people abandoned a baby, or an aged parent.

I wouldn’t put it past them, however.


Pointer and Facts: Lawnewz.

38 thoughts on “Hurricane Ethics: The Ultimate Betrayal

  1. It’s depressing how much of the population treats dogs as something to chain up to a tree or leave out in the back yard to scare people away. Then there are dog fighters. Half the population’s below the fiftieth percentile.

    Jack, I’d strongly advise you never to go to India.

  2. You are right, they should have shot these dogs in the head before they left. No need to make them suffer.

    If you are suggesting that we should put the welfare of pets above that of people though, I think we disagree. What should someone do, when you have millions of evacuees trying to get to safety, with no idea if they can take their pets with them? No idea if they will find a shelter that allows pets? 2 shelters, for 6 million people? What exactly do you expect people to do?

    • Who suggested that? You let the dogs fend for themselves, if worst comes to worst. Animals have a remarkable knack for survival: between a dog and these idiots, I’ll bet on the dog every time.These assholes tied the dogs up or confined them—you know, like DiCaprio on “Titanic.” Not cool.

    • Doubtless she meant 2 shelters in her immediate area that she knew allowed for pets. Doesn’t mean those were the only 2 in Florida.

      I read several stories about Houstonians getting buildings ready for evacuees — I believe they specifically mentioned making allowance for pets, since they knew how important they were to people. Taking only what you can carry for me would generally include my dog.

      • Pet evacuations were a HUGE thing during Harvey. The PR machine churned long and hard, letting folks know what shelters would take pets, and what alternate accommodations were being provided (instant pet hotels) in cities out of the path.

        I suppose Florida was the same. Plenty of options beyond ‘tie the dog up in a flood zone.’

  3. How someone treats the most helpless of those in their charge is an indication of how they will treat ANYONE in their power. You are not wrong to suspect that they would shove granny in a cellar if they thought they would get away with it, given the right circumstances.

    My step father had an adult son who lived somewhere on the east coast. He demanded and got his inheritance, and since visiting Texas was somehow beneath his progressive dignity, never visited again. However, his wife invited my step father to visit them… for the purpose of tricking the senile (65 year old) ‘old man’ (who could still whip his wimp of a son) to sign away his assets and move to the east coast… and live in their attic. Which was not yet converted to a room (but they would do so after he arrived!)

    Seems she had already done the same to her grandmother: got control of the assets, took her in for 6 months, then shuffled her to a nursing home for welfare to pay for her care (she had no assets, you see.) My step father was not having it, and his son never spoke to him again, even when he lay dying in hospice.

    The son being progressive had no bearing on the story: my wife’s aunt is conservative and tried to do the same to her mother in law.

    Both treated their dogs as expendable assets, alive for their own convenience.

    Some people are scum. How you treat dogs (animals) seems to be a predictor of how you will treat others, though.

    My experience, and your mileage may vary

  4. I just spent time researching how to evacuate with cats, I’d never leave them to fend for themselves,, but hadn’t really thought through the particulars. There are lots of great ideas online. There are also statistics, and according to some sources, 39% of pet owners say they’d leave their pets behind. I just don’t understand it.

    Riley’s adorable, Jack! Give him a couple of pats on the head from me.

  5. Seems unethical all the way around, on the defendant, on the taxpayer, and on the court system to press felony charges for terrible horrible judgment in this hundred year storm.

    I have seen before how blithely lawyers, and prosecutors and members of the legal system are to handing out criminal charges willy nilly. Sort of eye rolling and then I realize how many lawyers end up disbarred, how many politicians and judges end up disgraced and in jail, and it makes me wonder what is wrong with people that attracts them to law.

  6. I too “don’t comprehend how a human being could do this to an animal that they have accepted the responsibility of caring for”, I would have taken my pet(s) with me. Since I don’t know each of their individual situations I’m not going to outright condemn them all for leaving their pets behind; however, the people were wrong to leave their pets tied up or caged considering the projected conditions they were leaving them to, their actions sentenced their pets to death, it’s nothing but luck that any of them survived.

    I’m on the fence regarding any “punishment” for those that did abandon their family pets. Considering the circumstances surrounding the storm; The question I’d have is, is it better for the pet to take the pet away from the family to punish the family and to try and get the pet adopted elsewhere considering that there is a very real possibility of having to put it down because no one adopts the pet? In other words; if you don’t take care of your family pets during a disaster and leave them to die, we’ll punish you by killing your pet – there, take that you evil family.

      • Sure a fine based on their local ordinances, but jail time?

        Counter point: Legally, what is the period of time a pet being left alone that would be considered abandonment if a pet is left alone, at home, has food and water? Is leaving a pet alone at home when working 12 hour shifts at a job that requires you to drive one hour to get to work, that’s 14 total hours for the pet to be alone – is that abandonment?

        I’m really just trying being difficult. 🙂

      • ”we punish you by hitting you with a whopping fine, and maybe some jail time.”

        Howse about HUNDREDS hours of Community Service, preferably at a shelter, exercising its residents, and cleaning up their kennels with a tooth brush?

  7. Rugby is making plans to knock over a bank, or maybe pull a diamond heist. Have you been mumbling about needing a new computer where he could overhear you?

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