Caitlyn the dog is out of the woods.
Tyreik Gadsden is not.
As anyone who has not been in a cave knows, Caitlyn is a Staffordshire terrier mix that was found in North Charleston last month with her mouth taped shut so tightly that her tongue had turned black and her cheek was destroyed.
When her story was first publicized, donations and sympathy poured in from around the world. Luckily some of that money went to Toby’s Fund at the Charleston Animal Society, which helps fund the treatment of abused and neglected animals.
There is no shortage of them.
Caitlyn even got a fundraiser out of the cast of “Southern Charm” and the Republican Garden and Lounge on King Street, an event that raised $15,000. People love them some dogs.
Good news — Dr. Henri Bianucci says that Caitlyn is about ready to go to a foster home, that she’s going to be just fine.
Tyreik’s news is not nearly so good. The North Charleston elementary school student was visiting his grandmother on the East Side last month when some thug shot at another guy and instead hit the 5-year-old in the spine.
He’s paralyzed, won’t walk again. And now Tyreik has contracted meningitis as a result of his injuries.
Gadsden’s family has seen a warm outpouring of support, too, but it’s not been nearly as much as the love that the world has shown Caitlyn.
So now Caitlyn is going to help Tyreik.
State Rep. Wendell Gilliard — a big dog lover (he used to raise long-haired German shepherds) — last week congratulated the “Southern Charm” cast for helping Caitlyn.
Then he asked them to do the same for Tyreik.
To their credit, the cast has already set up a GoFundMe site and is planning a similar fundraiser for Gadsden and his family. So, bravo.
Bianucci took Caitlyn to a fundraiser for Tyreik last week, and his Veterinary Specialty Care donated toys and money.
“So many people followed the Caitlyn case, and she’s going to be fine,” Bianucci says. “We thought it would be good if something positive could come out of this for Tyreik.”
Now, the Charleston Animal Society is also planning to do something for the Gadsdens, maybe involving Caitlyn, because the dog and the boy’s stories have become entwined.
The thing no one will say here is that even animal lovers are uncomfortable with the idea of an injured animal receiving more sympathy than a paralyzed child.
When it first happened, Caitlyn was pulling in more in donations than the family of a local police officer who was shot in the line of duty.
People will say, “Yeah, but an animal is helpless, defenseless” — and there is some truth to that. Caitlyn’s story went viral, even though she is far from the most abused animal in Charleston County, because there were pictures of her with tape on her snout. You could see the abuse, the look in her sad eyes.
It was heartbreaking.
But we shouldn’t forget Tyreik was just as innocent and helpless.
This is not to pit animals versus people — even most animal people will tell you that’s not a contest, nor should it be.
But there is another very good reason Caitlyn and Tyreik are joined together. That’s because someone who will abuse an animal will eventually move on to people. It’s a documented fact that cruelty is a progressive thing, and anyone who will hurt an animal is more likely to eventually move on to people.
Joe Elmore, executive director of the Charleston Animal Society, has been saying this for years.
“There’s a strong link between cruelty to animals and violence toward humans, and that’s why we want to support Tyreik,” Elmore says.
That is a very good reason, and it is comforting to see the community rally around both an abused dog and a paralyzed child.
Just hope that everyone remembers neither crime is acceptable nor should be ignored.
So, as Charleston cleans up the messes left by a guy who abused a dog and a thug who shot a 5-year-old, let’s hope the juries throw the people responsible under the jail.
And hope that people remember that some innocents walk on four legs while others have just two.
And some of those can’t even use the two they have.
Reach Brian Hicks at email@example.com.