Day 90: What do you do when you meet a mass dog-killer with a charasmatic face?
What do you do when you meet a man who claims to have killed over 100,000 dogs by lethal injection and then he smiles at you?
You may or may not have seen this video (click here) of a man that kills dogs – I posted about in a previous blog. I suggest you don’t watch it even though, to be honest, the camera work is rather good. He talks openly and with a wry smile about having killed multiple thousands of dogs and then shows how he does it: with injections into the body that lead to brutal convulsions.
Today the same man turned up at the rescue centre and gave me a broad smileHe came in with a collection of strays that he had caught for the ARK to neuter as part of their birth control programme. . I recognized his impressive moustache. Spine chilling stuff.
What on earth was he doing at the ARK?
Since 2009 the killing of dogs was officially outlawed in India (acctually since 2006 it was outlawed but loop holes allowed people to kill on ‘mercy-grounds’ which effectively meant thousands of dogs could be killed because they had a limp, bad teeth or even unattractive eyebrows. Now there’s no Ifs no Buts. You just can’t kill dogs). This video was apparently taken before the law change.
This man works for the Corporation as their main dog-catcher. ‘The Corporation’ is the rather ominous name for the local government body in Kerala. Multiple reports and sightings indicate that the corporations still kills dogs – and so does this man – but because it is now officially illegal they want to be seen, at least to the Ark, as being above board and fulfilling their quota of supplying dogs for neutering.
Avis has an agreement that she accepts captured dogs for neutering so is in the rather strange position where she has to welcome dogs from this two faced, injection wielding, dog-killing man. The guy with the smile and the sweet moustache officially ‘saves’ dogs by catching them for the Ark and then unofficially kills others (or likely even the same ones).
So, in walks this man, very calm, fairly handsome, and smiles at me. I make a very conscious decision not to smile but it’s strangely difficult. I am in that curious situation where you meet someone you want to hate and think you ought to knee in the groin but you have no personal history to draw upon.
If a stranger comes up to you in the street, cups a fart and puts it in your face and then calls your grandma a ‘cunt’, its easy to access even the most hidden reservoirs of outrage. But if you go to a cocktail party and Mussolini smiles at you (lets assume he’s still around), comments on your fine hair and serves you a cucumber sandwich there’s a moments doubt. Would you accept a cucumber sandwich from Mussolini??.
But I am grateful for meeting this man.
There is a continuous deception in the world of human-animal interation: a nice looking package of bacon belies the suffering that goes into it, a stylish fur coat the blood of animals who died, a picture of a dairy farm on a carton of milk the reality of mechanized milk production. We are protected and distanced from the pain we inflict on animals by the appearance of apparent calm and control. I am fed up with the deception. Meeting this man, this handsome killer, felt to me like finally seeing the human face at the heart of so much pain and contradiction. Behind that impressively large moustache were 100,000 dead dogs – so to speak.
I am afraid I didn’t knee him in the groin or cup a fart in his face. Much as I wished I had. My internal struggle was enough. Instead watched him nimbly climb back into his dog-capture truck and drive off.
If you’ve read my blogs over the last few days and wondered if my heart is sinking in the face of all this death and misery out here then the answer is Yes and No.
Yes, because its damn horrible to see these dogs in distress. But No because I am here at the middle of the pain, a pain that I’ve ignored for too long and confronting it makes me feel more whole. Strange but true.
Today I saw an Alsatian that was abandoned for its third time. The first time as a stray on the streets, the second time it was rehomed with an Indian lawyer only to be found out of the streets in awful condition soon after and now again it was rehomed and thrown out. It still wants to play with a ball.
When you see this much suffering the temptation is to withdraw, not just physically (walking away) or emotionally (shutting down) but also intellectually – one persuades oneself that these dogs must be different, perhaps they are just animals.
But when you stay with naked suffering there is room for a more appropriate response – simple compassion.
Whether it is holding the puppy that is about to be put down, playing wih the dog that has never been played with, treating the animal with the ignored maggot wound – you are responding in a small but honest way. As a human touching another animal as an equal.
There is no lie or contradiction in that. There is no hiding behind a big moustache.