The quiet hum of the operating room was interrupted by an overhead page. It was for my (Dr. Henri Bianucci's) technician, Josie. “Your husband is at the front desk,” said the receptionist.
“Is he bringing my lunch?”
“No, he is holding a goose.”
Of course, this elicited laughter, but it got me thinking. Her husband, Michael, had just been discharged from the hospital after an emergency appendectomy and gall bladder removal. He was not even supposed to be walking around, but as he drove down U.S. Highway 17, he saw a Canada goose staggering in the road.
Cars were swerving around it, some missing it only by chance as they took no evasive action. Hundreds of people passed this goose and none were moved to help, except Michael. Why is that? What sets him apart from the others. What includes him in the fraternity of those who cannot turn away?
This has been on my mind a lot lately. My wife, Susan, recently showed me a Facebook page called The Patrick Miracle. This is an account established in the name of a pit bull puppy who was horribly neglected, starved, wrapped in a plastic bag and thrown down a garbage chute in an apartment building in Newark, N.J.
Patrick was discovered, barely alive, and was delivered into the hands of a local humane society, where he was treated and, miraculously, survived.
This site has become a nationwide clearinghouse and meeting place for animal rescuers. It shares stories of incredible acts of kindness and caring for animals that are the victims of the darkest depths of human neglect and cruelty. It also features animals in need and connects them with caregivers, who will drive from many states away or make donations to get these animals the help they need.
On that night, my wife showed me a young female pit bull named Trista. A group called Paws to the Rescue had posted her story. She was found in a yard by animal control in Marion County. She was emaciated and had had her foot chewed off by another dog. They were desperately trying to raise money for an amputation.
My wife had that tone and expression that told me there was no getting out of it. I would be doing this surgery. A few days later, Trista was delivered to us by her guardian angels. She was a sweet dog despite her experiences. She was embraced and loved by our entire staff. Surgery went beautifully, and she is now awaiting a forever home while in foster care.
Right and wrong
I serve on the board of Pet Helpers with Hank and Laurel Greer and Carol Linville, and have worked closely with Kay Hyman and others at the Charleston Animal Society. These people, and so many others like them, are so driven and compassionate that not only are they unable to turn away, they are scarcely able to focus on anything else. So if we are all created equally, how can we diverge so dramatically in our treatment of animals?
There are so many possible explanations. I asked Michael why he couldn't have just kept driving. He replied that maybe it's just the basic internal sense of right and wrong. That to be able to help something that is suffering and not to do so is just wrong.
It's just a visceral response. You either have it or you don't. If you don't have it, you wouldn't understand any explanation. And if you do have it, you don't need one.
Certainly ignorance, upbringing, intellect, culture, drug and alcohol abuse and more play a role. The explanations and excuses are endless, and man's cruelty to animals isn't going away. But neither are those people who cannot look the other way.
To have seen the hundreds of thousands of posts on this site told me two things. Facebook is not the complete waste of time that I thought it was, and the world has far more of those who cannot turn away from animals in need than I had ever imagined.
So if you count yourself among us, embrace it, channel it, get involved. Your compassion is needed. It is now cool to be an absolute fanatic in animal advocacy. It must be, it's on Facebook.
Dr. Henri Bianucci and Dr. Perry Jameson are with Veterinary Specialty Care LLC. Send questions to email@example.com.