Wednesday, October 19, 2011
For most of us, the name Susie is likely a friend, loved one, or perhaps a name we've never even heard before. For my own part, I've got two aunts named Susan so that's my immediate association. However, here in North Carolina the name Susie has taken on a new meaning over the last couple of years. You see, here Susie refers to a dog (pictured above). Not just any dog either, a very special dog.
After all, Susie was dealt a rotten hand in the early part of her life. A rotten hand most of us wouldn't go near with a five hundred foot pole. When she was first discovered near dead in a park back in 2009 few could have known she'd come to be the figurehead for a movement in NC. For when Susie was found she wasn't just hungry and alone. She was suffering from severe beatings, and burns across her body. Through the tiresome effort of the nearby animal shelter, Susie was given a new leash on life, but the traumatic experience would follow her at every turn.
Enter Donna Lawrence, and her husband Rob. Donna herself was struggling to overcome a trauma. For just as Susie was recovering, Donna found herself on the wrong end of a life threatening attack by a neglected pit bull. The attack left Donna in need of forty-five stitches and nearly two months before she was able to walk again. Her new found wariness of dogs found an unlikely companion in Susie whom she adopted alongside her husband some time later.
Together the two overcame their traumatic pasts and learned to understand and appreciate the other species. But that leaves one remaining dilemma - what happened to the individual who performed such atrocious acts upon Susie? The man who poured lighter fluid across the body of this defenseless pup and set her aflame. Well, he got the best NC had to offer... four to five months suspended sentence for burning of personal property.
Were he not a criminal with other charges - non Susie related - on his plate he would have walked away with no jail time at all. Enter Susie's Law which was signed into law way back in December 1, 2010. Susie's Law upgrades various acts of animal cruelty from Class I felony to Class H and puts jail time on the table whereas probation was the only option before. Is it enough? As a life long lover and owner of dogs, I'd say no. But then again I'm probably a bit more towards the radical end of the spectrum, so you can take it or leave it.
Still, as we approach the one year anniversary of the signing of Susie's Law I can't help but read this story and feel a bit bittersweet. I know cruelty such as the form experienced by Susie happens across the country to children and animals alike. I know that it's a form of cruelty that is impossible to perceive as an outsider looking in. And yet I constantly wonder what drives individuals to perform such acts. It is an emotional response I dare not fathom. Nor is it one I ever wish to really understand.
You can read more about Susie and Donna at SusiesHope.com.