The System Sucks
I had an experience recently and I need to rant about it because apparently that is the only thing I can do about it.
First a little background to make the story make sense: I really love my job as a pet nanny, but I have not yet built it to full capacity and therefore I have to fill in the financial gaps with other undertakings. Because Amazon lets me work as an independent contractor with flexible hours through a program called "Amazon Flex" - flexible hours are a key necessity to allow me availability for all kinds of pet jobs - I do quite a bit of delivery for them. My rant-worthy experience happened during an Amazon Flex delivery route in South Central Phoenix.
As I usually do, I rang a doorbell and paused a moment to allow the delivery recipient to come to the door. I was not prepared to encounter the large, burly, angry man who opened the door, scowling at me as I offered up the package I had for him. I was even less prepared to watch helplessly as a frightened Australian Shepherd scooted past him out the door and cowered behind me - understandably so - as the large man grew more irate, yelling at the dog and reaching around me to hit the poor baby on the hindquarters with something he had in his hand (I want to say it was a poster tube or something similar, but honestly I was too focused on the dog to notice what it was).
Before giving in to the brute of a man and returning back into the house the dog and I locked eyes for a brief moment and I swear his soul cried out to mine - pleadingly - and my heart broke for him.
What I witnessed could not technically be classified (legally, that is) as animal abuse. The smack on the behind may not have even physically hurt the dog. But it was terribly wrong. There was obvious emotional abuse that I find really difficult to describe - it was in the dog's eyes. What I witnessed gave me a heart-rending glimpse into the daily life of that poor dog (and possibly others, as I suspect there were other dogs in the house). Ongoing systematic abuse that stays just above the legal radar is the worst kind of life for an individual - whether human or non-human - because it prevents discovery of the problem and allows it to continue unchecked.
The brutish man saw how I saw what he did and glared at me, challenging me to defy him, as I can only imagine he had done on countless occasions to the dogs in his care. Seriously, when he glared at me like that it was bone-chilling. I was afraid of him. I wanted to say something...DO something...but I was frozen in fear and could not come up with appropriate action. All I could do was muster a "Have a great day," as I commonly say to people as I am leaving them with their packages, and leave his porch, hoping to minimize the damage.
The feeling I had when that poor dog pleaded to me with his eyes to help him has haunted me since then.
When I got home I did some research into reporting suspected animal abuse and found a local article that suggested reporting it and the article supplied a phone number to call. Skeptically, I called the number and the woman who answered, though she was nice and she was sympathetic, she was anything but helpful - through no fault of her own - and she only confirmed my suspicion that there was really nothing that could be done unless I saw actual, quantifiable injury. They need proof of abuse or neglect in order to step in.
Therefore I will continue to be haunted by those sad eyes.
I will continue to feel like I let that dog down with my cowardice and inability to change his existence. For that I am sorry. And sad...so sad.