For Linda Brown, life is a bitch. Literally.
Brown breeds dogs. Expensive, purebred types. It’s a living. You sell puppies to affluent homes for a lifetime of love and, most likely, over-indulgent companionship. What could be more harmless?
Except that Brown made a tragic mistake, a potentially life-threatening error.
She sold one of her puppies to the Vice President of the United States.
And then the dog poop hit the fan.
The animal rights crowd came down on Brown like a Jack Russell on a chew toy. They say Vice President Joe Biden should have gotten a dog from a shelter instead of the purebred German Shepherd he bought from Brown. They say that breeders like Brown are responsible for the deaths of many homeless dogs every year.
Brown says she’s received death threats. She says the same threats have been aimed at Biden. The Secret Service won’t say anything.
I’ve got something to say.
Since when does a person, even a dog lover, read a news account like this one in the Delaware County Daily Times and think, immediately, “This woman has got to DIE”?
Anger, sure. Passion, fine. But death? Come on. PETA, I’m sure, doesn’t agree with death threats. But what are the chances that these threats aren’t coming from among its membership? Regardless, for a group that supposedly loves animals, PETA has become expert at jumping the shark. (And doesn’t that demean the shark?)
I deserve to be heard on this, because for 13 years I owned a pet rescued off the streets — a Cocker Spaniel puppy scooped up off a sidewalk in front of a Northern Kentucky funeral home, less than a year old.
Murphy’s hind legs shook from the moment I first saw him until the day he died. For the next decade, I did not answer a telephone without having my pants legs chewed or my ankles bitten. He once punctured a pair of my leather tennis shoes and drew blood. My house still bears scratch marks from his paws on various doors. He bit all of my children, and a boy scout hawking popcorn. More than once, in retaliation for not being fed off the dinner table, he looked me in the eyes and peed on my rug.
And that rug did tie the room together.
I daresay, then, that I have sacrificed more for homeless dogs than most PETA activists. I’ve donated chewed up books and children’s toys, shoes, socks and pants and, of course, the aforementioned rug to the cause. And I’ll not be judged or muzzled by any animal rights loudmouth until he has walked a mile on my urine-stained carpet. I’d suggest, in fact, that if they’re so concerned about the issue, they buy themselves some land and rescue some of these dogs en masse, give them a kind of mixed-breed utopia.
But leave this poor woman in Delaware alone.
They even sicced the state’s dog wardens on Brown. These slack-jawed, lap-dog bureaucrats showed up at Brown’s kennel with digital cameras and wound up citing her for such offenses as a piece of dog food on the floor and some stray dog hairs. The charges were later thrown out.
Unfortunately, the wardens were not.
A year ago, after the tragic death of filly Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby, a woman wrote me to say that if I didn’t immediately call for an end to horse racing, the blood of every thoroughbred that dies in the sport from now on would be on my hands.
“These horses don’t deserve to die,” she wrote. “Humans who can prevent it but refuse to, however, I’m not so sure about. How would you like it if you were forced to run for two miles, carrying a heavy rider and being whipped all to make some rich owner more money? Do you have any idea what torture that must be?”
I responded the only way I could. “I work for a newspaper, Ma’am. I think I do.”
Here’s where we are today. Mike Vick, and no, I’m not defending him, is getting ready to be released from jail after running a heinous dog-fighting ring. In July, he’ll complete a 23-month stint in Federal prison. He’s been out of the NFL for two years, and faces a stiff climb to get back into the league.
St. Louis Rams defensive lineman Leonard Little, in October of 1998, got drunk in a bar while celebrating his 24th birthday. He climbed into his Lincoln Navigator, then ran a red light in a downtown intersection and plowed into 47-year-old Susan Gutweiler in her sub-compact car. He killed her. She left behind a husband and a teenage son.
Little got a 90-day shock sentence in a state work house. He was suspended for 8 games by the NFL. Within 18 months, he was playing in the Super Bowl. He’s still playing today.
Used to be, when someone was getting a raw deal we’d say he was being “treated like a dog.”
More and more, it’s starting to feel like we humans are the ones who are getting our noses rubbed in it.