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Justice for Blackie, Duke, and Nikko

Story ID:2796
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Period Piece
Location:various various USA
Year:1985
Person:Suzana
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I thought this episode from Blame it on Peaches naturally follows my thoughts
on Doogie and Tammy. So here is Episode 14: Blackie, Duke and Nikko:

I am not a winter person, though I would never think of living in a state
which didn't have the four seasons. Tonite, Peaches and I were out on a
beautiful wintry evening, already dark because of the shorter daylight
hours, but illuminated nevertheless, by the light-falling snow. The
flakes looked like millions of tiny bits of shimmering glass as they
accumulated and kissed the ground.

Still on a main commercial street with its too many places of alcoholic
beverages for sale, we saw two or three youngsters being followed by a
comely, roly-poly black dog. Just like kids, I thought. They have no use
for leashes, but thank God, their dog is sticking close to them. I wondered
if Peaches would do the same if I dropped her leash? I don't think so. She
would probably be off to do some exploring on her own --at least for awhile.
But I wasn't going to give her that chance because there was no place near-
by she could do this safely and under my supervision.

Surprisingly, these youngsters turned into a "beer garden." That's what we called
them when I was growing up. Why were they going there? Were they looking for
their dads? Or was there a bowling alley inside where they could earn some extra
money by setting up pins? (pre-automatic pin-setting days) Whatever their reasons,
it didn't include "Blackie." He was left outside alone and untethered. I hoped that
they had not abandoned him. The only thing I could do was to say some prayers
that they would be out later to take him home. However, their seeming lackadasical
and abrupt leave-taking of him, had me worried.

A couple nights later when Peaches and I were out again, we saw Brian,
a wonderful young man who was starting up a non-profit fruit and
vegetable business to give the handicapped employment opportunities. With
him was a policeman, and both of them were looking at the pitiful figure
of a black dog in the street who had been hit by a car. Someone hadn't
cared enough to stop and aid him.

Sizing up the situation, I offered to accept medical costs if someone would
take us to the emergency clinic. The policeman said that he would, so I
quickly took Peaches home and grabbed my purse.

Sadly, "Blackie's" spine had been broken, and he had to be put down.
Was this the same black dog Peaches and I had seen a couple of nights
before? I have no way of knowing for sure, but in my heart, I believe it was.
How tragic that this precious life was snuffed out, because for him and
for so many other "throw-a-way" pets, there just isn't any room in the "inns"
of human hearts for them.

However, as bleak as was Blackie's short life, it was not nearly as terrible as was
Duke's. Joan, my friend and a very devoted animal rights' person who lives in St.
Petersburg, FL. had been sending out newsletters to persons like me who
she knew cared about animal suffering. In them were accounts of cruelty to
animals with ways listed on how we could help them. Basically, it was to write
to our legislators, the USDA, company CEOs or anyone who might be
instrumental in bringing humane changes and protective laws. In one of her
newletters I read about what happened to Duke.

Someplace in southeastern Pennsylvania, Duke, a Dalmation, was given away
to three men in their twenties who promised to give him a good home. Instead,
they tied him to a tree, taped his jaws shut, then encouraged their pit bull to
massacre him. Near death, they then cut Duke's tail and ears off, and finally
crushed his skull.

Not only was I horrified by what these cruel men did to Duke, but I was also
reminded that there are probably a lot of other equally cruel people who train
their pit bulls in this same horrible way. They are the ones who are responsible
for giving this beautiful breed a very bad but undeserved reputation. It is not
their fault that God gave them huge jaws. The fault lies solely with the people
who teach the dogs how to use them in a destructive way.

My family in Florida has had two wonderful, gentle, and sweet pit bulls.
I am glad that they have sense enough to recognize that the fault does
not lie with the breed but with the people who use them so wrongly.

But these horrible men, thank God, would not get away with this brutality
this time. Pennsylvania is one of the growing number of states which has
updated its anti-cruelty laws. Now, in Pennsylvania, a slap on the wrist
and probation are a thing of the past. So, it was with profound gratitude
that I read that Judge Biester of Philadelphia, PA sentenced them up to
three years in jail - something unheard of just a short time ago, when cruel
men like these might have gone scot free.

When Judge Biester sentenced these men, he said "Cruelty....sends a chill
of disgust through the community...particularly when it is done to a creature
that is basically helpless."

Nikko was not as lucky to have a kind and sensitive judge to make the
cruel man who tortured him pay. In 1998, Nikko who was an 8-month old
Shepherd mix may have suffered even more than Duke. A 37-year old man--
father of two who lived in Janesville, WI confessed to duct-taping Nikko's
mouth shut and sealing him in a plastic container. His 10-year old daughter
listened to the dog cry and whine for a week, until mercifully, Nikko finally
died in the container in the family's living room.

Despite his confession and the police finding Nikko's body in this "home"
from hell, the Rocky County District Attorney said he did not have enough
evidence to convict because the decomposed remains of Nikko were not
saved. Unbelievably, the judge agreed with the District Attorney and the
case was dismissed. Big mistake.

There was a big uproar locally, and even reached the ears of outraged animal
rights people in other states. They were incredulous that this dastardly deed
to an innocent animal was dismissed. We all wrote to the court to reopen
the case. I believe it had no choice and did.

Nikko was not the only animal that this horrible man tortured by getting
animals from "free to a good home" ads. Four cats also were his victims.
BH broke Nellie's two back legs, broke her neck, and sodomized her. Nellie's
body was found in BH's home. Nellie's rectum was stretched to 10 times
it's normal size. A used condom was found near Nellie's body.

Butterball, Monkey, and Morris were also all found dead in BH's house. Their
skulls were crushed. Their jaws were broken. They were strangled with
ropes. BH had tortured and killed them.

Obviously, Wisconsin had not updated their animal cruelty laws at this time.
Nor did they have a judge with the calibre and compassion of Philadelphia's
Judge Biester. This judge and the District Attorney had even displayed
compassion for BH saying that they must protect him from the "lynch mob."

Today Animal Rights groups like the American Humane Association (AHA)
and the Humane Society of the US (HSUS), to name just two are working
to strengthen state cruelty statutes, mobilizing grassroots responses to specific
cases of animal violence, and convincing judges to impose sentences that befit
the crime they punish.

Another sad case involved Gucci, a 4-month old chow-mix
living in Mobile, Alabama. He was beaten, doused with lighter fluid and
set ablaze. The puppy ran under a house, where he continued to burn until
Doug James, a professor at Springhill College in Mobile rescued him and
got him medical help. The two juveniles accused of torturing Gucci were
scheduled for trial that August.

I am glad, dear Shana, my beautiful chow-mix, that this story of another
chow-mix has a happy ending. Gucci now lives with James in Mobile.
Despite having to wear an Elizabethan collar to protect his scars, he plays
happily with one of James' two other dogs. The vets say he appears to be
a healthy, growing pup.

And, thankfully, in July of 1998 BH of Janesville did go to trial- this time
with a new judge. This notorious animal torturer was found guilty of
5 counts of animal cruelty and 1 count of weapons possession. Each
count carried a 2-year penalty. Applause broke out after the sentence
was handed down. Thank you Judge Richard T. Werner of the Rock
County Courthouse of Janesville, WI for taking a stand against violence.

Dear Nikko, Nellie, Butterball, Monkey, and Morris -- there was justice for
you at last. As God's creatures, you are very dear to Him and to us who
respect animal life as the great treasure it is.