A Word In Edgewise: Justice for Puppy Doe – and Beyond


In August, a pit bull puppy was found in a wooded area near a Quincy, Massachusetts, playground. She had been systematically tortured over time, to such a degree that veterinarians had no option but to euthanize her.

Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, vice president of animal welfare at the Animal Rescue League of Boston told the Boston Herald that the puppy’s condition was “unquestionably … hands down” the worst case of cruelty she had ever witnessed.

As the “Puppy Doe” case went worldwide, her previous owner came forward. Forced to surrender her pet, she gave her away through Craigslist. Phone records linked the dog to Polish national Radoslaw Czerkawski; searches of his home disclosed blood spatters, fur, and a bloody paw print matching Puppy Doe’s DNA. Czerkawski is currently being held on $500,000 bail facing a possible 55-year prison sentence for eleven counts of animal cruelty.

Callie Crossley wrote on WGBH news, “Hundreds of Puppy Doe supporters demanded justice for the abused dog. I look toward the day when vulnerable humans suffering abuse will inspire masses of sympathizers to demand the same for them.”

Crossley doesn’t acknowledge that justice isn’t an either-or situation. Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey stressed, “From the beginning, we’ve been concerned that if an individual could do this to a dog or another animal, what could they do to a person? This made this an extremely important case to us.” Attorney General Martha Coakley concurred: “Someone who takes pride or pleasure in the ritual torture of animals, whether it’s a young child or an adult, it’s an indicator this person is capable of and may seek to inflict pain on other people.”

Statistics show direct connections between animal abuse and domestic violence. The current hue and cry over Puppy Doe may well result in saving other animals and humans. People can learn to stop handing over live animals on Craigslist. Substantial prison sentences for animal abusers could curtail their freedom to move on to children or vulnerable adults. Puppy Doe’s terrible suffering can have meaning if we will learn.

Everything–every being–has a place on the circle. People and other living creatures are interrelated in ways we are only dimly beginning to realize. We need to honor and protect every life.

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