Preston Shelter Ignored Neglected Dog: It Went Blind
Note: Please watch this accurate and moving Youtube video a volunteer created about Courtney’s work at the PCAS and her love for the animals there. It will inspire you!
I broke down sobbing the morning after I attended Monday night’s Preston County Commission meeting and heard government officials lie and attack my daughter and, by extension, my family. Wrapped in a towel, having just showered, I stared into the mirror trying to decide if I should wear makeup for my lunch meeting. And simply began sobbing, the emotional tension from three long days of showing support being too much.
I’m not a crier. I rarely cry and it takes a lot to make me even shed a tear. But this wasn’t the first time I cried for my daughter, Courtney, who’s being painted as a liar and troublemaker. Not because she is, though. It’s because she cares so much about animals that in trying to help them, her innocent Facebook post exposed ongoing problems at the Preston County Animal Shelter.
Those tears came a few years ago, when Courtney’s “baby” and Saint Bernard, Breece Meghen, died after someone fed Breece rat poison. I watched my daughter raise this tiny puppy and treat it like her child for several years. I was privileged to dog-sit Breece, who was one of the sweetest animals I’ve ever known. I was working in California when Courtney texted me with the news. She was devastated for weeks.
“You’re going to call the police and report this, aren’t you?” I asked. “They consider animal abuse more serious than child abuse, you know.”
“Mom, this is Preston County, not California. They’re not going to do anything,” Courtney said. Even from 3,000 miles away, I heard the disgust in her voice.
Then she related various cases of animal cruelty she knew about, where no action at all had been taken. Like the one involving my mom’s Cocker Spaniel. The neighbors swooned over this beautiful canine, so much that Mom finally gave it to them. And then watched it painfully live out its days outside, tied to the short end of a chain, as piercing Preston winter winds blew through.
My mother, Eileen Berry, called the shelter manager repeatedly, trying to report her neighbors. She fed the dog, she tried talking to the owners. I can’t even recall all Mom did, trying to keep it safe. But after months of waiting for the shelter manager to take the animal, Mom kidnapped the dog. It was blind and emaciated. The harsh winter weather and poor care led to an illness that robbed this once-beautiful creature of its eyesight.
I cried then, too. As every woman in my family did, I am sure. That’s because, even though PCC President Craig Jennings has called us “weird”, we care about other living things: cats, dogs, goldfish, and people. Even people like Jennings, who don’t do the good they can, when they’re in a position to do so.
I’d rather be weird and humane, than cruel and cold-hearted. I think most other people would be, too. People like the rock group Nickelback, whose lyrics to the song “If Everyone Cared” are the backdrop to the “Help Courtney Austin!” Youtube video that a female volunteer firefighter created on the animal’s behalf.
The lyrics pretty much speak for themselves so read these few lines and see if you agree:
If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
Then we’d see the day when nobody died
When nobody died
And as we lie beneath the stars
We realize how small we are
If they could love like you and me
Imagine what the world could be
I didn’t wear makeup to lunch Tuesday, and it’s a good thing because I cried some more as the day went on. And why wouldn’t I? Not while more than 100 animals remain housed at the PCAS in conditions that are now even worse, with only one shelter employee there. She simply won’t be able to keep up–which will lead to the animals’ declining health. This, of course, is the perfect excuse for the PCC to return to their pre-Courtney mentality, of euthanizing 75-percent of the animals it took in before she arrived.
That is my biggest fear. And the reason for my tears.