Saturday, April 18, 2009

What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas

Louisiana is one of the big dog-fighting states. The Louisiana SPCA created this logo as part of their campaign to stamp out the blood sport just before Hurricane Katrina hit and the shelter and the entire city surrounding it was submerged.

It's been more than a week since I returned home from the Animal Care Expo. Perhaps you've noticed that I've been at a loss for words ever since.

It's not because the conference was a snoozer. As you'll see in the coming days, there were many compelling stories that came out of the event, which was sponsored by the Humane Society of United States.

Shelter workers, veterinarians and independent rescuers listened at full attention to the prestigious line-up of presenters. The nation's best-known investigators shared their experiences working on high-profile animal cases. That included the people who helped convict Michael Vick of dog fighting. And expert witnesses who testified in the San Francisco murder trial of Diane Whipple, who was mauled to death in the hallway of her apartment building by two Presa Canario/mastiff mixes named Bane and Hera.

So why my somber silence?

I can't shake the thoughts of the photographs and videos we viewed for days. It boggles my mind to imagine the mental make-up of the human beings that derive satisfaction from inflicting pain on helpless creatures. Images of neglect, cruelty, and even bestiality were screened. At times it was tough to watch. Pictures of animals in agony are still creeping into my mind.

Sadly, I know it won't be long before the images presented at Expo will be replaced by fresh ones from somewhere else.

Still, there is an inspiring side to Expo. Being surrounded by like-minded people who have devoted their lives to helping animals makes one feel less alone in a calling that seems hopeless at times.

I'm just reviewing my conference notes now. More to come on dog fighting, forensics, and puppy mills, so please keep reading.

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