Oct 272011
 

chalk-art-cat-sidewalk

This is part of the Okey’s Profiles of Hope series, which highlights anonymous stories of courage and hope related to the issues of animal abuse, child abuse, and domestic violence. This story was sent to me from a follower of this blog.

Trudy’s Story

I remember reading a book that said that if a woman does not have a good relationship with her father, she will end up marrying a man like her father…. Well I guess that is what I did:  I married a man like my father, only worse.

I grew up in a home with an angry, critical father, and a self absorbed, distant mother.  I got out of the house as soon as I could.  I always tended to be attracted to the “bad boys”.  If a guy was nice to me, I dropped him like a hot potato.  And so I ended up marrying “Richard”.  Honestly, looking back, the warning signs were there before we got married, I just refused to see them.

Richard was angry and very critical, just like my father was.  We were married just two and a half years, but it was hell on earth.  I could not do anything right, the food wasn’t cooked correctly, the bed was made wrong, the house wasn’t clean enough.  He didn’t like me seeing my friends, kept me isolated.  Bullied me.

We bought a house in the country, contrary to my wishes.  We had 2 cats, a dog, and a pony.

The abuse started with the animals.  He kicked the dog, twisted the pony’s ear, and threw my little kitten against the wall so hard, I thought he had killed it.  I was seeing my pastor regularly to try and help me get through this, and I remember he said “If he is abusing the animals, he will abuse you.”

So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised the first time he hit me.  I called the cops, and the cops talked me into staying.  The second time he tried to throw me down the basement steps, I don’t know how I hung on, but I did.  He was so angry he stormed out the back door.  I got my purse and left.  I didn’t even have a toothbrush.  I stayed with friends for about six months till I got back on my feet.

I had to leave my sweet kitty there, because I was sleeping on couches.  I still feel so bad for abandoning Dusty to that horrible situation.  If I could have taken him, I would have.

I wish I could say I met the man of my dreams and remarried, but that is not what happened.  I was never able to allow my walls to come down to be able to have a lasting relationship. My life has been full, and right now I have four rescued cats that are quite spoiled.  They are my family, and I love them dearly.  I have made some mistakes, and I have a lot of regrets, but I do NOT regret leaving Richard at all.

I admire Trudy’s courage to leave, and I appreciate her willingness to share her story. I also admire her for making the tough choice of leaving her pet behind in order to secure her own safety. Yes. I said that – I admire her for choosing her own safety over risking both hers and the animal’s safety.

Many women remain in dangerous situations because of not having a safe place for their pets to go. Although I am a STRONG advocate for the development of more safe places for survivors to take their pets, I also am an advocate for women to take charge of their own safety, too. Especially when children are involved.

Sometimes walls are good boundaries. It is not essential to be in a relationship in order to find happiness.

Thank you Trudy for being so honest. I wish you and all your pets great happiness!

BZTAT

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Oct 192011
 

UPDATE: Since writing this post, I have heard from people who have “exotic” pets that are not considered dangerous and are not deemed at risk because of domestication. I have no complaint with these individuals, provided that they adequately research and provide for their pets’ unique needs. In my opinion, any legislation brought forward needs to allow for reasonable care of non-dangerous animals by responsible pet owners.

I am very scanton-mountain-lion-art-BZTATad and very angry today.

A senseless tragedy has happened in my state of Ohio, and it was totally preventable.

Terry Thompson’s so-called exotic animal farm in Zanesville, OH is 91.4 miles from my home in Canton, OH. Yesterday, Mr. Thompson apparently opened the cages of over 40 exotic wild animals on his property, purposefully releasing them, then proceeded to kill himself, according to the Muskingum County Sheriff.

Faced with several dangerous wild animals on the loose, the sheriff was left with few options for securing the public’s safety. Killing the animals was the only viable option.

At this writing, most of the animals have been killed and only a handful recaptured.

I do not have complaint with the Sheriff’s choice of hunting down and killing the animals. I DO have complaint with Ohio’s governor and legislature for not taking action sooner to prevent the sale and ownership of exotic wild animals in Ohio.The sheriff should have never been put in the position of hunting down wild animals.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, Thompson, a convicted felon and convicted animal abuser, would not have been able to have exotic animals on his property if an emergency rule passed by previous governor Ted Strickland had been maintained. Our current governor John Kasich opted to allow the emergency rule to expire.

Ironically, Kasich claims that there were no resources to enforce the law. I wonder whose resources will pick up the tab for the law enforcement effort going on right now? It cannot be cheap to enlist deputies, state police officers, helicopters, zoo officials, etc. to track down wild, dangerous animals.

Ohio has been very backward in it’s attempts to address legislation affecting the care of animals. Communities often go over the top with Breed Specific Legislation, using very ineffective legislation to address the problem of aggressive dogs, yet they have done basically nothing to address the problem of puppy mills and exotic animal auctions/farms that create serious problems for humans and animals.

I hope that the international attention focused on Ohio currently will help Ohioans see the error of their ways.

This blog focuses primarily on the issues of domestic animals and the bond between humans and pets. I could not ignore this egregious example of animal abuse, however. When animals are abused, as they were in this case (inappropriate captivity, reportedly poor conditions in the past, animal hoarding, and intentional release into inhabited areas) humans are also in danger.

The Humane Society has been appealing to the Ohio authorities for a long time to address the lack of effective exotic animals legislation in the State of Ohio. They have released a statement about the Zanesville situation, and they have developed an action page for the public to voice concern on the subject. I hope that you will visit these pages and let your voice be heard.

I am sure that there are people with exotic pets who are well-meaning, good people. Wild exotic animals, though, are unpredictable, and for most, it is in their nature to be aggressive. Often, people who are ill-equipped to manage them “collect” (another word for hoarding) wild animals, thinking they are rescuing them. As in this case and another Ohio exotic animal farm recently in the news, the owners are people who have had troubles with the law and psychological instability. They abuse the very animals that they claim to rescue, and they put their communities at risk.

Ohio is one of less than 10 states that do not have legislation banning the ownership of wild exotic animals. Let’s hope, in light of the present tragedy, that will end soon.

BZTAT

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Sep 052011
 

cat-collar-wood-doorThis is the first in the Okey’s Profiles of Hope series, which highlights anonymous stories of courage and hope related to the issues of animal abuse, child abuse, and domestic violence. This story was sent to me via a follower on Facebook.

I have always known that people that abuse and neglect animals are often abused or neglected themselves, and people who are heartless are raising these children, and the children are becoming heartless.

Sadly, I get to see this up close and personally every day where I go to care of a colony of cats in a very bad neighborhood in Worcester, MA. The adults throw rocks at us. The children throw rocks at the cats. The children have killed kittens. The adults do not care. The adults think nothing of getting rid of a pet when they feel like it. They do not watch over and protect their children either.

Just yesterday as I was taking yet another dead cat from the shed and removing its collar to place on the shed door as a reminder, a woman was screaming and swearing at her child from one of the apartment buildings nearby. There is such anger and hatred surrounding these children. They take it out on the cats and they will grow older and start taking it out on people.

It starts in the home. If there is no kindness, love and positive role models in the home, there is no hope for the children or the animals. There is no hope for the future.

-Anonymous

From BZTAT: But there is hope. This writer is intervening with the cats, and making a difference. And Okey’s Promise Keepers are helping to get the word out that we need to look at the WHOLE problem – children, animals, AND emotionally wounded parents.

It does start with the children. How can we make a difference to help them see that an animal is a life worth respecting, and an empty collar is something we never want to see?

The empty collar reminds us all that there is a lot of work to be done to change hearts and minds, but it is a goal worth seeking.

BZTAT

Would you like to submit an Okey’s Profiles of Hope story? Contact BZTAT to learn how.

 

Jan 202011
 

I am not a researcher or statistician. I am an artist and a trauma counselor with some real life experience. And I am a decent web surfer. I have seen enough evidence to convince me how important it is to address animal abuse and domestic violence simultaneously. But to gather information to convince others is a bigger challenge.

Luckily, a number of groups have been working on the issue for quite awhile, and they have amassed an impressive cache of information.

The American Humane Association is one group that has been working on this for many years. I found a treasure trove of information on their site. I hope you will go there and learn more. Here is a sample of information I found on one of their fact sheets:

Did You Know?

  • More American households have pets than have children. We spend more money on pet food than on baby food. There are more dogs in the U.S. than people in most countries in Europe – and more cats than dogs. [13]
  • A child growing up in the U.S. is more likely to have a pet than a live-at-home father. [14]
  • Pets live most frequently in homes with children: 64.1% of homes with children under age 6, and 74.8% of homes with children over age 6, have pets. The woman is the primary caregiver in 72.8% of pet-owning households. [11
  • Battered women have been known to live in their cars with their pets for as long as four months until an opening was available at a pet-friendly safe house. [15]

I didn’t know some of that myself. It is somewhat sad and surprising to me that more children have pets than live-at-home fathers. I am glad to know that pets are available to fill emotional needs, but it is also unfortunate that society tends to disregard the importance of the role the pets play when we intervene with those in dangerous situations.

My hope is that Okey’s Promise can help shine more light on the great work that has been going on for some time to reveal this important issue.

As an artist and a counselor, I feel that I have some unique insights and talents that can bring some new attention to the concerns. But I am truly just a small part of Okey’s Promise. Okey’s Promise is a movement and a cause, and it’s biggest asset will be the people who join in and spread the word. YOU are the most important part of Okey’s Promise.

Please share the video, share the message, support with a pledge, or share the message any way that you can. Be one of Okey’s Promise Keepers. Let’s keep Okey’s Promise alive by doing better for society’s children, domestic violence victims, AND creatures.

BZTAT

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