A day in a life…literally

August 5th, 2011

A 12-week-old pup I christened Lennon looks out from her enclosure on Thursday, July 28, 2011 in Kaneohe.

By now you’ve already read the news story that ran last week on the Hawaii Humane Society’s ceaseless efforts to prevent animal cruelty and promote animal wellness and health.  It has taken me nearly a week and a half to muster up the courage to write about this story I photographed, as it was such a heartbreaker.  Yet the people at HHS have to do this on a daily basis–I truly admire and respect their steadfastness and courage after seeing and following along for this story.

I followed HHS Humane investigator Vernon Ling on this Thursday to check out several different cases reported of neglected, abused, or ill-fated animals.  Most, as it turned out, were total duds, reported by ill-willed neighbors or passers-by.  But there are some animals, even those that are taken care of, that just break your heart when you come in contact with them.

This blog is about that one animal.  A 12-week-old pup who I will name Lennon for the rest of this blog.

Lennon, right, regards Hawaii Humane Society humane investigator Vernon Ling as he performs an inspection at a pet store on Thursday, July 28, 2011 in Kaneohe. (Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

Vernon and I encountered Lennon during a routine check at a pet store in Kaneohe.  She was in a separated enclosure with two other pups, including one that was her sibling.

Lennon's sibling sniffs at the camera

Vernon then checked out the rest of the shop, making sure each animal was adequately fed and hydrated in a clean environment.

After the inspection, Vernon went back to Lennon, who had concerned him from the get-go.  Lennon was lethargic and meek, unlike the other pups who were just right up to the cage whenever you’d pass by their space.  After a very thorough examination and evaluation, Vernon decided that Lennon needed veterinary care.

Lennon stays back in her cage as Vernon Ling evaluates her situation.

Lennon is examined by Vernon Ling before being sent to the Humane Society's veterinarian.

Soon after Vernon’s assessment, another HHS truck came to take Lennon to their veterinary care center.  Meanwhile Vernon and I were off to our next case investigation.


So why, you may ask, was this a heartbreaking story?  Well, if you are a pet owner or animal lover, seeing any animal, whether it’s a dog or rabbit, or deer, or alligator for that matter, is not a pleasant thing.  It was clear that Lennon wasn’t in the best shape, which is why the decision was made to take her to the vet.

The heartbreaker came after we had arrived back at the operations center.

Lennon had to be put down.

She had a very contagious disease known as parvo, which attacks the canine’s nervous and circulatory system.  Essentially, Lennon was dying by dehydration, and she was in her final stages when we encountered her that day.

After hearing the news and saying farewell to Vernon and the HHS crew, I walked to my car, got in, and wept for about 10 minutes.  She was 12 weeks old.  She didn’t know enough to deserve that fate.  It was hard to come to grips with it, but that fate was ultimately what was best for Lennon and the rest of the canines who were around her.

In the end, I felt like I was one of the last parts of her short life–I photographed and preserved these moments and am immortalizing them in this blog post.  A day in Lennon’s life–the last day of Lennon’s life.

I’ll leave you with perhaps my favorite image, and the one that tells the story of my short encounter with Lennon.  Live like you mean it.

Lennon is silhouetted with an uncertain fate as Vernon Ling makes the call to request veterinary care for the pup.

18 Responses to “A day in a life…literally”

  1. Larry Johnson:

    Thanks for the story and taking the time to write it. That had to be hard for sure. Brought tears to my eyes at the end. As an animal lover and dog owner (Beagle) it is very hard to put one down, especially that young.

    I’m sure that Lennon appreciated the time with you as well. Thanks again.. ! (woof woof)


  2. Carol Pohina:

    They should have tried to treat this pup first. Hospitalization with treatment. HHS is too fast on the needle.

  3. Pearl P:

    Oh gosh, I’m so sorry! I know how you feel….I had a puppy die on me once, that was given to me already sick, but I had no idea that he was. He also had parvo and was only about 8 weeks old.

    We rushed Buster to the vet after only having him now about 2 weeks, but he died in the car ride over, right in my arms… It was gutt wrenching! I was beyond weeping!! I was also about 6 months pregnant, so my emotions were totally twisted up with this trauma.

    We need a law that limits animal owners to the amount of babies their dogs & cats can have….and a law that requires them to take them in for shots at the required time, right away.

    Over population has gone on way too long!! Common Hawaii, you have compassion or not? What does Aloha mean to you?

    Thanks for your story Jamm.

    -Pearl Patterson

  4. Laura Clagtone:

    Well, I certainly felt like crying, too. I have a serious vested interest in puppy mills, as I wrote the expose’ in Honolulu Weekly about the Waimanalo puppy mill last December, before the big bust in February. I just wrote an update for the paper and have been in close touch with the angels at the Humane Society who have worked so tirelessly to shut down these hellholes and the foster volunteers who are giving so many of these precious dogs the first homes and comfort they’ve ever had.

    Not surprisingly, but sadly, the court cases have been postponed (again!). The forfeiture hearing is now scheduled to begin on Thursday, September 8 at 8:30 a.m., with judge Glenn Kim presiding.

    The ray of sunshine is that new laws are being spearheaded by Senator Clayton Hee and Representative Thielen to protect our most helpless creatures. Hopefully someday Hawaii will no longer be near the bottom of the national list for animal rights.

    The publicity generated by this case in several publications has also prompted several concerned neighbors to report possible mistreatment of animals and/or suspected puppy mills.

    There are many people who won’t really be at peace unless and until this animal factory in Waimanlo is shut down and the mistreated dogs can be given to loving, forever homes. But this is big business, lots of money involved, so don’t expect a completely happy ending. Finding a puppy mill on the Big Island would truly be a needle-in-a-haystack proposition.

    Thank you for doing your part to bring this horror to even more people.


  5. julia g:

    I cried after reading your story about Lennon. I just don’t get it, I look at the cutie pie that I am caring for and think to myself, how could anyone hurt this little angel?

    I shall say a prayer for Lennon, thank you for your wonderful story. I love the last picture of Lennon.

  6. Yvette:

    I have fostered many puppies and a few mama and puppy litters – - from irresponsible people in NM who don’t spay or neuter their pets (fostered through Animal Humane). There are many caring and great people that work for or foster for Animal Humane here in NM and they really do try and save every single cat or dog they rescue. My sad story; a friend of mine found an older Boxer (maybe 12) in the rain and he was not microchipped, no tags. She tried everything to find the owner to no avail. I advised her to contact NM Animal Humane and then I had to go out of town. Upon returning I asked my friend at Animal Humane what happened to “Duke”. She told me that he had multiple tumors, he was in a lot of pain and had to be put down and examination by their vet. My heart was so sad and I found myself angry at the owners who allowed this poor dog to suffer so much and then left him in the rain. We can only say that at least he is no longer in pain but what is wrong with this world? I love my 4 dogs so much and they have helped me over many many sad times. Thank you for your story and your picture that says “a thousand words”. Hopefully some people will chance, we can only hope.

  7. Sandy:

    You can bet that Lennon’s sibling & the other pup in that cage had canine parvovirus passed on to them through her feces. It’s ruthless, speedy & is everywhere. The breeder probably did not raise the litter with much care for sanitation. It can be tracked into the home on the soles of anyone’s shoes that trod on contaminated grass or sidewalk. Young pups are the most susceptible. :(

  8. Jacque LeBlanc:

    This story has raised tremendous awareness about the plight of puppies and the challenges we face as a community and at the Hawaiian Humane Society. This has been a most moving tribute to what we face day after day in our work. From all of us at the Humane Society, thank you. There is nothing worse than a rescue that ends in euthanasia. May this story serve as “Lennon’s” legacy for the future betterment of all animals. It was a pleasure to have you with us for a day in the life of our work. – Jacque LeBlanc, Hawaiian Humane Society

  9. Yoda808:

    Ugh, that is such a heart wrenching story. Definitely have to give those guys a ton of credit for going through that everyday and making those kinds of decisions.

  10. Eileen Adachi:

    This story is so sad, but it must happen time and time again. I’ve seen people who just drive up and deposit their puppies at this pet store for $10 each or so. We all should know that if the adult animals were spayed or neutered, this kind of scene would never happen. Poor puppies!

    There should be stricter controls and requirements for pet store owners who continue to accept puppies from the irresponsible breeders who breed their dogs for profit. All puppies for sale should have their puppy shots. It should be the responsibility of the pet store to keep proofs of required puppy shots on file for the puppies they sell. They must realize that there is an veterinary expense involved before accepting pets for sale.

    This requirement may discourage pet stores from buying their puppies indiscriminately from any one who walks in with a puppy to sell to them. Pet stores may require breeders to have the puppies given their shots. Nevertheless, breeders and pet stores must be held accountable for the health of the puppies and documentation of their shots must be provided with the sale of each puppy.

    If it is found that these breeders and pet stores do not have the shot records on file, they ought to be fined. If they do not pay a fine, they won’t learn anything about responsibility to these animals they sell for their profit. And after x# of fines, they should be banned from selling puppies for a specified time period.

    We shouldn’t limit this only to breeders and pet stores. There are many who advertise in the newspaper or in some other form of advertisement “Puppies for Sale”. Any one selling puppies should be held accountable to have their puppies given their puppy shots.

  11. Tracy White:

    Thank you for memorializing what would have otherwise been a tiny, unknown loss.

    I’m an IT consultant and worked with a couple of humane societies in the Seattle area… always very tough.

  12. jammaquino:

    Wow thank you all so much for taking the time to read my story. As I mentioned, it was really quite difficult for me to revisit the situation even days later. I felt the best I could do was immortalize this little pup, who we ALL know now as Lennon, in this story. I hope my photographs and words did justice to her albeit short life.

    Again, thank you all for reading, and please hug a pet if you have one!

  13. Eric Basa:

    Jamm, I’ve owned a couple of dogs that had to go, and each one was very heartbreaking for me. Your blog made me reminisce about them and reminded me of the true meaning of unconditional love. Thank you, bro!

  14. Jacque LeBlanc:

    Parvo is a highly contagious and deadly disease. It is also completely preventable by owners taking appropriate responsibility to vaccinate. It is also easily transmitted from clothes, grass and handling. And risks the lives of animals all around an animal that has it. Please encourage all puppy owners to vaccinate their animals from this deadly disease. Pet shops as profiteers from puppy sales have a great responsibility to ensure that the animals they sell are protected from disease.


  15. Franklin Hu:

    Agree with Eileen, some responsibility should rest on the pet shop owners. They should be required to have a representative or the owner himself, check the source of his suppliers. He can maybe post a sticker that the source of his animals has been checked by them, and found to be in compliance with ethically standards.

  16. Sprayhawk:

    I’ve missed your posts and happened upon the new ones today.

    Aside from your obvious photographic skills, you have quite a knack for telling the emotional stories that are captured in your images.

    I am owned by several dogs. They are my girls first, pets second and show dogs last. I am thousands of miles away and several weeks removed from the event and it still hit me.

    Excellent work. Mahalo!

  17. Brittany Carkeek:

    Thank you for sharing your story! you told it very well i wish that the owner could have taken preventative measures so that this sort of thing does not have to be retold. i just put my dog down after 13 years its no fun.

  18. rottweiler puppies:

    Nearly any animal is threatening if it mistreated or improperly trained. There are certainly far more sensible pet owners related to self-proclaimed “high-risk dogs” when compared to the severe episodes. Virtually all owners will have to be carefully well educated in the handling of their very own canines. Strong-willed canines need constant training.

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