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.
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.
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.
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.