|Kingston, sick and starving, abandoned by owners, ignored by neighbors|
The following entry was also posted on Animal Policy Examiner, another page written by your Dozen Dogs Diarist.
On a broiling hot day last weekend, a small team of volunteer animal rescuers ventured into one of Houston’s most impoverished neighborhoods. They spent five hours under the urban sun, combing a large apartment complex for a sick, starving dog who a visiting health care worker had reported as needing help.
Finally they spotted “Kingston,” severely emaciated, his skin grotesquely bald, flaking, and inflamed. The friendly animal tried to approach one of the rescuers, but he was too weak. He simply collapsed on the side of the road.
Although his rescuers revived him, held him, got him to a veterinarian, and kept vigil around the clock, Kingston was only to enjoy their love and care for one day.
Abandoned, it is believed, by his owner months ago, and subsequently ignored by the hundreds of residents in the two-block long complex as he struggled to survive heart worm, sarcoptic mange, and harsh weather on little or no food or water, Kingston passed away on Sunday.
He left behind profound grief and troubling questions for his rescuers and for the many who closely followed his harrowing story.
Today Animal Policy Examiner posed some of the questions to Anna Barbosa of Corridor Rescue, Inc. (CRI) the group that worked together with Forgotten Dogs of the 5th Ward Project to help Kingston.
Barbosa is a board member, PR coordinator, and fundraising director for CRI.
Interview with Anna Barbosa of Corridor Rescue, Inc.
Animal Policy Examiner: Do you know if there's any possibility of Kingston's owner being located and charged for abandoning or neglecting him?
Anna Barbosa: A police report is expected to be filed. From there, all we can do is hope.
I think that since the owner had been gone from that location for so long, it likely is not going to happen. We still need to go through the process of filing the police report and hope for an investigation.
We can’t give up.
Animal Policy Examiner: What does it mean to you and to CRI to have been involved in helping Kingston?
Anna Barbosa: We help so many animals in various stages of distress. These cases tear us apart because it is inconceivable that so many people just ignore and turn away. I don't understand how you can look away when you see an animal in pain. We are grateful to have assisted with Kingston. Hopefully he understood that he was loved.
Unfortunately, we've come across this several times. My own Freddie is a CRI dog who was is serious shape with broken bones, mange, worms. I think he survived because he was a younger dog. We also, recently rescued Crockett, but it was also too late for him.
Animal Policy Examiner: What role did CRI play for Kingston?
Anna Barbosa: When Kelle Mann Davis of Forgotten Dogs of the 5th Ward Project put out the plea to help her with Kingston, our board members wasted no time stepping forward to be of assistance. We never considered the cost for care; we would figure that out later. This dog was suffering and we needed to help him.
Animal Policy Examiner: Did you plan to pay for his medical expenses?
Anna Barbosa: We were prepared to pay for all of his medical expenses. These types of dogs require extensive immediate care and extensive long term care. We knew it was going to be expensive as we have experienced with so many of our other rescues.
Corridor Rescue operates solely on donations. Fortunately, when we have such a critical dog, our donors feel the call to help and their donations will help to mitigate the financial cost of care.
Animal Policy Examiner: Would you have fostered/re-homed him?
We absolutely would have fostered and re-homed Kingston. Once we commit to a dog, we give the best medical care, socialization, training if necessary, and we carefully interview potential adoptive families. We will continue to advise the adoptive family if additional issues arise.
Animal Policy Examiner: For many observers the most troubling part of Kingston's story is that out of all those local residents and for all that time nobody helped him. Why do you think that was so?
Anna Barbosa: That is an excellent question and puzzles us. I think depending on the perspective, some would say it is a cultural issue, others might say lack of education about animal care, or maybe it is a function of some type of social psychological thinking: "someone else will take care of it."
Animal Policy Examiner: Is CRI doing any sort of outreach, perhaps especially in those lower-income areas of Houston, to educate residents about animal care and what they can do when they see strays, etc.?
Anna Barbosa: Yes, we have an education team that goes into the schools and talks to the kids about animal care and animal abuse. We are getting requests from more schools to present and we hope that this will help educate these kids with a better understanding about how to interact with animals and how to respect them. We want to give them information about what they should do in a situation like this.
We have a program called C.A.R.E.S., where we go into this area and provide education, pay for spay/neutering, and provide pet food to low income pet owners.
We also have a program called Project HEEL. It is a partnership with the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department. Our volunteers mentor the boys in the program and three of our rescue dogs live with the boys. A professional dog trainer works with the boys and the dogs. This program helps them with a sense of accomplishment, compassion, and responsibility.
Animal Policy Examiner: I know the following question would probably take pages upon pages for you to answer, but what are your opinions about where the Houston city authorities are in all this?
Anna Barbosa: We feel that attitudes are slowly turning for the better. Of course it has been frustrating for us but we just have to keep doing what we do to help these animals and continue to bring awareness to the public and city authorities.
Animal Policy Examiner: Why isn't the city penetrating those neighborhoods with education campaigns and better enforcement of animal welfare laws?
Anna Barbosa: That would be a lovely idea.
Animal Policy Examiner: Why is it up to private rescue volunteers like yours and not city authorities to go out and help all these animals?
Anna Barbosa: Perhaps we just need the right people in office who take these issues seriously. I don't know about the workings of city authorities and budgets, etc. We do know that it is in our best interest to get more involved at that level, but for now, we are just trying to stay afloat with all of the dogs and cats who need rescue.
We do it because it is a passion for us. We care deeply about these animals.
I wish we could better enforce the chaining law, better enforce animal cruelty law, better enforce animal abandonment law.
I would love not to have to find one more injured, mangy, and starving animal hiding in a ditch.
I would love not to find a dead pit bull on the street on a Sunday morning. Dead because it lost a dog fight from the previous night.
I would love not to read the story about the female dog whose ears were cut with scissors so she could pass as a pit bull.
Case after case, you get a sickening feeling in your stomach so until we can change minds, prosecute the abusers, solve the homeless animal problem, we will all be involved in helping these dogs.
ALL PHOTOS AND TEXT BY KATERINA LORENZATOS MAKRIS unless otherwise noted