Note: This post is a departure from the main theme of this blog, but I felt compelled to write it in light of recent events.
I don’t usually get involved in organized efforts to help save dogs on death row. It’s mind-numbing to think about the number of pets that are euthanized on a daily basis, and if I tried to step in every time I saw a Facebook post or a desperate tweet, I’d go crazy.
I donate when I’m able, but it’s like trying to save a sinking ship with a soup ladle.
When I heard about the plight of Ace the pit bull, who was found severely emaciated in an ACE Hardware store in Detroit, I was heartbroken, but feared he’d end up just another statistic of pet overpopulation and overextended shelters.
If somehow you’ve managed to miss his story on the news, after he was discovered, Ace was taken to Detroit Animal Control. According to MLive.com:
“Detroit Animal Control has an agreement in place to transfer adoptable animals to the Michigan Humane Society after a state-required four-day waiting period, but a council liason said DAC does not consider pit bulls an adoptable breed and is scheduled to put the dog down.”
Several other animal rescues, in addition to the Michigan Humane Society, have stepped up and offered to take in and rehabilitate Ace. At City Hall, it appeared — momentarily — that the dog would get a reprieve from Council President Charles Pugh, who said:
“We don’t want our policy to get in the way of the dog’s life. If we can save the dog, then let’s save the dog.”
According to reports, Loretta Davis, head of the Detroit Health Department, then vetoed this motion, effectively sentencing Ace to death on Friday. Local news outlets have been telling the dog’s story most of the week, helping to elevate it to the masses and causing a public outcry.
To me, it seems cut and dry: Because of an antiquated law meant to punish specific breeds, this dog, who has suffered more hardship than we can imagine, is scheduled to be euthanized. Even with several groups pleading with city officials for his release, groups that that are equipped to take him in and find him a loving home.
I can’t think of anything more backward-thinking or asinine.
How does one keep their sanity in a new city? With frequent out-of-town guests, of course.
I’ve been very fortunate to have multiple visitors in my short three months here. My BFF Beth came to see me at the end of September, and then my younger sister, Mandy, and her friend Samantha came to see me in early October.
What I did not anticipate is the overwhelming sense of responsibility I would feel when Mandy and Sam showed up. I immediately went into protective mom mode, and was determined to make this the most fun (but drama-free) trip it could possibly be.
Of course, New York City had other plans, and provided some pretty out-of-the-ordinary situations that I’m convinced only transpired because I was with two young ladies that most often look like they just stepped off the runway.
On our return trip from a visit to NYU, we hopped on the Subway and directly into the center of some street performers who were breakdancing. On the train. We felt a bit awkward, but at the end of the day, the point was for us to get from point A to point B — not to see two men spin around on their heads.
A woman sitting nearby was apparently so enthralled in the show that she became irritated when we boarded the train and directly into her line of sight. If you know anything about crowded Subway trains, it’s that there aren’t a whole lot of options for standing or sitting. But we obliged, and moved to a different set of poles so that said woman could enjoy the experience.
Fast forward to 30 seconds later, when I hear the same woman still chattering about something that I can’t hear all that well over the high energy dance music blaring in the train car. Then I hear my sister say, “Don’t touch me.”
What I didn’t know at the time (Mandy filled me in later) was that our favorite Subway rider had become convinced that Mandy was now trying to make a move on her man, who was sitting nearby. (What is this, Jerry Springer?) The lady asked Mandy a couple of times to back up, and when Mandy asked her where she’d like her to go (remember, busy train with breakdancers), the woman took it upon herself to literally push her away from the man.
Somehow I missed this entire exchange, but joined back in when the woman started loudly arguing with my sister, calling her a tourist and other equally lame names. I guess I should have been tipped off by the tube-top dress, tattoos and headband with a large bow that this woman wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
Luckily, this only went on for a minute or two before the woman took her two kids and her “man” and exited the train at her stop. She yelled “tourists” a few more times on the way out, and Mandy kindly told her to take her and her bow elsewhere.
The next day, we planned a perfectly lovely ride on the Staten Island Ferry, a free ferry boat that travels from Lower Manhattan to Staten Island, offering gorgeous views of the city and the Statue of Liberty.
On the ride over, I noticed one of those single-passenger planes in the sky, the kind that spell out short words and phrases with their engine smoke. Curious, I continued to watch the plane, first spell out “LAST” and then “CHANCE.”
I was immediately sick to my stomach. Who charters a plane to spell “LAST CHANCE” over Lower Manhattan, so close to Ground Zero and the new Freedom Tower? My mind was racing a million miles a minute. I didn’t let on exactly how disturbed I was, but it was unsettling to say the least. I had no idea what it meant or who it was intended for.
I tried to put it out of my mind for the return trip back to the city, but it still lingered with me. The universe offered me something more pressing to worry about, however, about 5 minutes later. I see a man wandering around wearing a V for Vendetta mask.
“But Erica, aren’t there always strange people in New York City?” The answer is yes, however, this man also happened to have a dollar bill over the mouth of the mask, and was holding it up with his index finger in a “Shhhhhh” type of fashion. And he was walking very slowly, looking directly at individual passengers in the most uncomfortable way possible.
At that point, I was convinced that this guy and a hidden crew of hooligans were going to take over the ferry and hold all of us hostage for some type of ransom. I watched him like a hawk, waiting for any type of more concrete warning signs. I took some comfort in the fact that there were several NYPD officers on board, but I was still waiting for the worst.
Thankfully, nothing happened. I’m 99% sure this fellow was a part of the Occupy Wall Street protests, which were in full swing at the time and are still going on now.
A few unfortunate incidents aside, I had a terrific time with the girls, playing tour guide during their too-short stay. They did my hair and makeup, they straightened up my little apartment, we went shopping, we almost saw a Jonas Brother, they climbed a lion, and, most importantly, we laughed till we cried.