Now that the painful grief is behind me, I would like to tell you about the systematic failure of animal welfare organizations on both the state and county level.
When we witness any level of animal neglect/cruelty, emotions are quickly heated and we immediately cry out for justice. First we slander the person or the people who are responsible for the tragedy, but what do we say when we find out that this has been going on for multiple years? I concluded, that at some point over the past something went wrong. These animals slipped through the cracks of our justice system. I do not just mean the twenty-one animals I rescued, I mean the hundreds that did not make it.
We must change the laws, so rescues like this can be carried out in a much easier manner. Most emergencies do not allow time for planning. I had to think for solutions as I went along and unfortunately, there were not many. After about thirty phone calls, two of them yielded results. The other twenty-eight made me loop around, back to where I started.
Some of the actions I took prior to the rescue:
I have written a petition to the Newport District Court, asking to remove all animals. My petition was sent back to me with a sticky note “You are not part of the ongoing case”. I have written the Petition as Chelsea’s Footprints vs. Town of Croydon. I was happy that there was a case. I was wrong. The case was not relevant to ALL the animals.
I had ongoing contact with the NH State Representative who assured me ‘everything is under control, the town’s police chief and I are working together... thank you for your concern about this issue”
The Humane Society of the United States was also aware of the situation. We had countless phone calls and emails about the animals living in the home.
I had called the State Police (Troop C Barracks) multiple times, they listened to me but ultimately all was handed back over to the town’s chief of police.
I have written, talked to the NH SPCA many times. Again, they thanked me for my concern and assured me everything was taken care of.
I have emailed the Board of Selectmen and offered my help to fundraise so that the town would not have to pay for the extra expense. I figured, surely, money must be an issue.
Even on the night of the rescue, I frantically begged a state trooper. “Please, call any shelter in NH and order them to open up. How about the SPCA?! You are a state trooper! I have 22 sick animals here. They need immediate attention.” – I got nowhere. The police officer apologized but could not help me. SAVES in Lebanon was not able to take them. No one on duty could make a decision.
The animals (all in immediate need of medical attention) have spent 18 hours in my home. Although I feel privileged to have experienced this soul-searching time, I do think that this should not be the norm.
Over the past eleven month, I felt I was receiving general courtesy but I saw no action. Nothing that made a difference. Nothing that made me relax. I kept on hearing about new puppies being sold and being ill. I knew, there were animals in the home but had no authority to knock on the door and ask to remove them all.
I felt my phone calls and emails became obnoxious and people rolled their eyes when my number showed up on their caller ID.
The fact that I was the one who got the animals out was the result of pure tenacity. Nothing else. In the future that is what I expect from everyone who has the authority to step in and make a difference.
I would like to also say, that even though the animals were in pitiful condition, the family suffered as well. The system let them down too. No one in their right mind gets up in the morning and says “today, I will be cruel to living creatures,” unless there is a serious illness of the mind. I feel empathy to everyone involved, but unfortunately, nothing can be achieved, until we take a side. In this case, I must side with the animals.
I wrote this not to judge, not to slander, not to create anger. I wrote this to bring attention to our system. I want to show you how mind-blowing it can be when your hands are tied yet you know there is suffering in our neighborhood.