On the night of Sept. 27, my husband and I returned home to find our dog killed; she had been shot in the back of the head. The only people awake and around at the time were my neighbor and his friend, sitting less than 20 yards from where her body was found. They claimed that they did not see or hear anything. Quite frankly, this is not possible. From their location, they had a clear view of the backyard. As we picked up her lifeless body we could see them sitting and hear them talking. Her body was still warm to the touch, her nose was still damp. She felt like she was still alive, except she wasn’t breathing. My husband even tried giving her CPR before we realized that there was a .22-caliber rifle bullet hole in the back of her head. The blood from the wound was bright red and fresh; it hadn’t even started to coagulate. She was shot no more than 15 minutes before we arrived home.
Luna was a gentle, loving animal. She was never aggressive toward other animals or humans. Our neighbor’s daughter even named her dog Muna (after Luna) because she liked her so much. We took her everywhere with us and people were always happy to see her. She loved being petted. Luna’s only flaw was that she was an amazing jumper and would jump the four-foot fence to go play with our neighbors and their dogs. Whenever we found her out of the fence we would apologize to our neighbors and they always said "No problem, she is so nice, we don’t mind." Luna was a part of our family. We don’t have children. We have dogs and we love them as our children. The loss that we feel is immense. There is no justification for taking her life.
Pets are companions. According to the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society International, there are many documented health, social, and physical benefits to owning and caring for a pet. They state, "Through helping to care for a pet, children also learn to care for their fellow human beings. There is an established link between how people treat animals and how they treat each other. There is a strong connection between cruelty to animals and human violence."
Pets are good for our emotional and physical health. Caring for a companion animal can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment and lessen feelings of loneliness and isolation in all age groups. It’s well known that relaxed, happy people do not become ill as often as those who suffer from stress and depression. Animal companionship also helps lower a person’s blood pressure and cholesterol levels. And studies show that having a dog increases survival rates in groups of patients who have suffered cardiac arrest. In addition, the National Institutes of Health has published countless articles on the health benefits (physical, emotional and social) of owning a pet.
When someone unjustly takes the life of a pet, they are not only taking something that doesn’t belong to them, they are leaving the owners with a sense of emptiness, sadness and desperation. Is this what we want for our community? This kind of violence (all violence for that matter) is wrong. Our government officials are democratically elected and are supposed to be a voice for the people of the community they serve. The community has spoken, there needs to be a law that protects animals against cruelty and protects the rights of pet owners.
We urge the Legislation to pass an anti-cruelty bill that protects pets like Luna, and the people of this community, from unjustified, unnecessary, and unwarranted killings and animal cruelty. Passing House Bill 16-13 (which we would like to call Luna’s Law) is not just to protect the rights of animals from cruelty and neglect, but it also protects the rights of the citizens of this community. This bill is not a waste of time or money. It does not put the rights of animals above the rights of humans. To the contrary, it supports the rights of people. If our property is damaged-someone hits our car or breaks our television-there are laws to protect us and punish those who unlawfully take our property. In a sense, pets are property. We own them for a purpose-they serve as guard dogs and/or companions. And they cost money to maintain, as we buy them food, take them to the veterinarian, and purchase animal-care products. Therefore, if someone enters my property and damages my property, my animal, there should be a law that protects the property owner. The only difference between an animal and a television or a car it that televisions and cars are just “stuff” and stuff can be replaced. Our dog cannot be replaced and the sorrow that we feel from her loss is immeasurable. It is time for the House and Senate to act on HB 16-13 and put an end to animal cruelty and build a healthier and safer community for all.
Lindsay Davis and Glenn Smith