AMERICUS — They’re not ‘just dogs’
I write with reference to LaVada Lankford’s article describing the horrible fate of her beloved dog, Mookie, published in the ATR of February 9. I read it with horror and at the end, I was left terrified and filled with deep pain and sympathy for her. Like Mrs. LaVada, our family is experiencing the horror of having a pet disappear. Two pets, in fact. Two miniature, long-haired dachshunds called Gordon and Whistler who, together, weigh less than 20 pounds. They dug out of our yard on South Lee Street on Thursday, January 26 and disappeared without trace. Several people saw them on January 26, but not since then. Like you, we have searched neighborhoods and the woods, but found nothing. They have not been picked up by Animal Control (to whom I gave pictures); they have not been brought to the Humane Society or any of the local vets (all of whom have pictures); they were wearing tags but nobody has called us to say they have them. Our reward posters are all over town and large banners are posted in front of our house. We are promising a large reward (and we’re serious about it). Yet no one has reported seeing any dogs remotely like them. We have had several false alarms and even cruel prank calls. It is as if the earth has swallowed them up. Who has them? And why do they want to keep them?
This has never happened to me before. I have been a pet owner for 22 years; I have moved animals between continents, and around the United States. My pets have received nothing but loving care, have thrived and lived to a ripe old age (my oldest dog died at the age of 17). I have picked up countless stray dogs in Americus and returned them to their owners (sometimes multiple times). I know what it is to grieve for a pet when it dies, but this is something I never expected to have to face. The impact on our family has been horrible: our children mourn for their dogs; the younger children sleep in our room because they are afraid that someone will take them from our house; our other dogs stare at me with puzzled looks and follow me wherever I go. The emotional health of our children has been strongly enhanced by growing up with dogs. The dogs have taught them to love and to be responsible for someone they love, to consider the welfare of more than just themselves. Now they are learning a very different lesson about the world: that a part of our family has been ripped away and the wound is bleeding; that no matter how much we loved and took care of them, we couldn't keep them safe enough. We are tortured by the uncertainty of knowing what has happened to our beloved little pets. Did someone pick them up? If so, why didn’t that person call the number on their tags or take them to a vet or to the Humane Society? Were they run over somewhere? Were they mauled by large dogs? Is someone planning to keep them? People are very kind and reassure me that we’ll find them, but I can see the doubt in their eyes. Every evening as the sun sets, my heart sinks with it as I worry about where they are: what will they eat? Where will they sleep? Are they asleep on someone else’s couch? Tied up outside in a strange yard? Dead? In agony somewhere and wondering where we are? Trying to get home (like Mookie) but unable to do so. Because they are small, they have few defenses and are easily overpowered; they are completely at the mercy of whoever has them. I cannot sleep for fear of what they may be experiencing.
Mrs. LaVada is right in her interpretation of the dominion humanity has been granted over animals. We have power over animals but we also have responsibility towards them. Given the number of abandoned and abused animals I have seen in my search for Gordon and Whistler, it seems that too many people do not obey God’s command regarding animals.
We will not get over the disappearance of Gordon and Whistler because they are are not “just dogs.” They are not possessions or merchandise, but God’s creatures who deserved to be treated well. We will not give up searching for Gordon and Whistler. They are out there, somewhere. Someone knows what happened to them on Thursday, January 26 on Lee Street. We wish that someone would contact us. We are still offering a large reward, more than anyone could get by selling them.
Please, fellow-residents of Americus, help us find Gordon and Whistler!
Irmgard, Henry, Charlotte and James Schopen-Davis and Bryan Davis
EDITOR”S NOTE: Gordon was spotted on Lee Street on Feb. 14, recognized by someone who had seen his photo on Facebook. The dog’s owner says he was gone for 19 nights and was emaciated but unhurt. They remain hopeful that Whistler will be found as well.