John Rudolph: Peanut’s Case

It’s literally been years since I’ve taken to pen to sit down and write an opinion piece. In the past, it often took quite an issue to draw out my emotions and gut feelings on a topic that managed to wring out how I feel and get it on paper.

Writing, for me, comes in spurts. It’s gotten down to being a bad case of procrastination for me even to finish my second book. But with this recent news, I am feeling empowered to get this one hammered out.

Hopefully, by the time you’ve read this piece, you’ll walk away feeling embittered and angry yourself, wondering where justice lies in this particular case of paranoid, knee-jerk reactive decisions over the fate of a dog that acted out on instinct.

Enter Peanut. I have no idea why Carl, his owner, chose to name him that. Maybe it’s because he’s had Peanut since he’s been a puppy, where he grew up living amongst family, his proud owner, and neighborhood children who have become accustomed to being around him. He leads a playful, active, and friendly life. He is the ideal dog and playmate. Peanut is that kind of dog you’d see being satisfied around his master, his brother dog, Kilo, and just being loved, getting fed his doggy dinners, fetching a ball, playing with his tug rope, or just being the obedient, kind, and dedicated brindle pit bull that he is. His biggest threat is probably his tail. Peanut’s that kind of dog who’ll whip your legs with it. That’s because he’s a good natured boy.

Peanut reminds me a lot of Chance, the American Bulldog in the movie Homeward Bound. Yeah, that’s Peanut’s voice alright. That’s how he’d sound if he talked to us. He’s cocky, confident, well loved and admired by those who have spent time with him.

Peanut’s story might begin much like the book and movie, Marley and Me. It might even end like the movie, where he moves on, living the good life, until nature takes its toll, and where we’re all sitting in the theater or in front of the book, crying our eyes out. Then, we reflect on what a good boy he was, the memories he left behind for his master, and the lessons in life that are, well, just good feelings for all of us.

But this story won’t end like that. Peanut’s journey has come to an abrupt disruption and now resides in the Waynesboro Animal Shelter, missing his family, where he’d rather be curled up with Carl in the same bed, or sitting by the fire, watching Carl’s every move and hearing the soothing voice of Carl’s family.

One day, Carl and his fiancé were preparing to leave their home, they stopped by to let Peanut and Kilo out for a potty break. Feeling that urge most dogs experience in their instinctive lives, Peanut decided to go after a feral cat and went underneath the fence in the back yard to pursue it. The cat he went after died. One of Carl’s neighbors approached Carl with abusive language, telling him that his dog killed his cat, even though this individual holds no license for this feral cat. The neighbor decided to claim the cat “as his own”, and contacted the police.

The Waynesboro Police visited his residence. They told Carl that if he cooperated by surrendering Peanut to their custody, they would go to bat for him at the hearing, where the Judge would preside and make judgment on the case. Carl fully complied, allowed the Waynesboro Police to take Peanut into custody, where Carl would wait nearly a week until the hearing.

Enter Friday, April 6, 2012. The judge makes his decision. The Waynesboro Police officers, who told Carl they’d go to bat for him at the hearing, never followed through, even though Carl fully cooperated with them.

Most importantly, before you continue reading the next paragraph and remainder of this piece – bear in mind another fact: Peanut has never bitten, harmed, nor killed any human being.

Sadly, and without any listening to Carl’s testimony or pleas, nor paying any attention to Peanut’s behavioral evaluations, the Court decided instantly that Peanut would be destroyed. The so-called “hearing” was over, faster than expected. Carl and his fiancé, along with the rest of his friends, were left stunned and heartbroken. Peanut remained behind at the shelter. There’d be no doggy dinner waiting for Peanut back at his house with his master. He may never even get to see his toys again.

As I write this piece, there’s no real idea on how long Peanut has left to remain alive while he feels lost without his owner, but there is a petition circling around on Facebook and is being signed by concerned citizens and animal lovers. Several of these people have their own pit bulls, terriers, pugs, mastiffs, hounds, and poodles. Going through their minds, however, is that one burning question: What if, for example, my pug Winston, decided to crawl under a fence and attack and kill a feral cat? My question to the Judge would be, would you elect to destroy my pug, even though he had never had a history of biting or attacking any human being? If so, this “law” seriously needs to be reviewed, because you’re defying nature – dogs the world over will instinctively go after cats!

What if my neighbor’s French Poodle decided to attack a feral cat and kill it? Would the poodle face the same charge of extermination, even though it too had never attacked a person? The obvious answer would be no since these other breeds of dogs don’t face the same dilemma as pit bulls would. What about a friend of mine’s Bichon Frise? What if he killed a feral cat? Would this judge exterminate him? No, because it’s not a pit bull. Pits are yesteryear’s Jews of Nazi Germany.

This case of Peanut is very clear – there’s either a deep hatred of pit bulls in Waynesboro or a foolishly deep-seated paranoia over these wonderful animals. Remember, Peanut has never bitten nor harmed anyone. We also must come to the obvious conclusion that, not only are these dogs unfairly treated by the courts of Waynesboro, we also realize that if the same feral cat were captured by Waynesboro Animal Control before Peanut nabbed it, they’d eventually bring that cat to the same fate Peanut now faces because it is feral.

As for the infamous statement made by someone over the phone at Waynesboro Animal Control – that anyone who feeds a feral cat – automatically makes that cat domesticated. I know, we’re all scratching our heads on that one. Is that the same official statement backed by the city of Waynesboro, or was this statement made off the cuff by someone without any real authority? Therefore, in the logic vested by the “official” who made that same statement – means that if we feed wild, feral rats – that makes these rats domesticated! What of wild deer? If I feed a wild deer an apple, does that make it domesticated too? Further, if that same feral cat that was killed by Peanut had killed a mouse the day before and had gotten captured by Waynesboro Animal Control, would the cat face the same fate as Peanut?

You decide. You now know the facts of this case. It has been appealed to Circuit Court.

To sign the petition in an attempt to try and save Peanut from the fate of being put down, please visit www.change.org/petitions/waynesboro-court-reverse-the-decision-on-peanut?utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=own_wall.


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