By Maleah Stringer
For The Herald Bulletin
Concerning the recent case where dozens of dead animals and about 100 live animals were found on a northern Madison County farm:
The visual images I saw at this crime scene are burned in my brain. I am hoping with time they will begin to blur.
I am struggling with this. A close friend of mine suggested I use one word to describe my feelings until I ran out as a way to release emotions and find some closure. So here we go: outrage, grief, sorrow, despair, defeat, sadness, overwhelmed, nausea, fatigue, disbelief, fury, compassion, hopeless, confusion, and fury yet again.
Yes, I’m angry about this situation. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing — anger keeps me moving and from dropping completely into despair. The fury keeps me from giving up.
Once on the property I found it was much easier for me to look at the dead animals than at the living. The dead were out of their misery; the living, on the other hand, were not. Their eyes tracked us. I believe we are fortunate that these animals could not vocalize their feelings. I don’t know that our hearts could have listened.
Years ago my minister and dear friend gave me another way to deal with atrocities that test our beliefs and spirit. Two words: Look higher. That’s it.
So that is what I am doing with this situation — looking higher and looking for the good. And there is good — a stupendous amount of good. This community, as well as people all over the state are stepping up with supplies, financial help and offers to foster and adopt the animals. And kindness.
We have placed around 100 animals in foster care. There were mini-horses, ponies, sheep, one llama, rabbits, cats and a large number of fowl. They are all safe and being shown compassion and kindness — something they’ve not seen much of in recent times.
My fears concerning this kind of situation are many. One is that there are more properties like this that we do not know about where people and or animals are suffering. Two, that there is a blatant disrespect for animals in general but in particular for those who happen to fall in the category of livestock — as if they were put here for our use and they can be treated without compassion or empathy as is our right as humans and their fate.
The lack of humanity shown toward these animals, and the fact that studies show that it is the connection to human violence or how one views the world, is a huge concern.
It has been known for quite some time that our county ordinances and state laws need to be rewritten concerning animals so that abusers are punished. The Madison County Sheriff’s Department has spent countless hours on this case as has the Madison County Prosecutor’s office. The problem here is not that they are not doing their jobs; it is they can only file charges or prosecute within the confines of our laws. Change needs to happen. This case may be the initiating factor. I am again looking higher.
I want to thank this community for all your help concerning this matter, particularly the volunteers who are caring for these animals. Sometimes it seems that when we see some of the worst that humans have to offer we also see the best in response. And yes, after all is said and done, the good is still winning.
Maleah Stringer is executive director of the Animal Protection League, 613 Dewey St., Anderson. She can be reached at 356-0900 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.