Today marks the Official First Day of Summer for most Italians. It marks the day in which shutters go down, ‘closed for vacation’ signs go up, and streets go empty for the entire month. But it also marks the day in which over 300,000 dogs (600,000 by new estimates), sitting on death row, can no longer count on having their death sentences commuted just one more season. They didn’t know it, but since being given as gifts at Christmas, they’ve been living on merely borrowed time.
As a dog-owner, I find Italy to be the most dog-friendly country on earth; after all, they’re accepted in restaurants, stores, hotels, taxis, heck—I even took my little Trevor to concerts and Museums! Each October 4th, in honour of St. Francis, churches hold special masses for your animals—in attendance.
But in what is one of the many contradictions of this wonderful place, when surf’s up, and the days grow long, well, Italians figure that it’s a good time to dump their best friend at the side of the road, hoping he’ll get ‘picked up’. He usually does—by the front bumper of an SUV going 95 miles an hour.
The Italians (and they do not have the corner on this barbarian trait, as the problem is rampant throughout the Mediterranean), simply don’t consider animals as ‘pets’. They are beasts-- and no amount of unconditional love, company and dedication will change the fact that they can be disposed of as an empty pack of cigarettes--tossed carelessly out a car window.
While many of us animal lovers fret over the annual great dog massacre, some activists and City officials thankfully try to do something about it. Usually, by putting up poignant posters showing sad little doggies abandoned to meet their fate. This year, however, dogs got hit twice: no ad campaign was launched in Rome, and I fear elsewhere as well -- so dogs go abandoned due to the crisis & abandoned by those who might have helped sensitize the public to their plight.
Of course, they're hit a third time: when chained to lamp posts or criss-crossing major highways, before they starve to death or are mercifully hit. Each year, abandoned dogs cause nearly 7000 roadway deaths (to humans) as cars swerve to avoid them. Wouldn't that have an impact on the rest of us?
As for me, August usually means running across motley packs of newly wild dogs: Poodles, golden retrievers, Dobermans, Beagles and every other mix of breed in between…it’s almost a charming scene right out of 101 Dalmatians, except for one thing: they don’t get saved in the end.
In 2009, controversial photographer Oliviero Toscani (from Benetton fame),
brought his talent into the
never- ending annual campaign.
What race (breed) are you? Human or Inhuman?
The subtitle reads:
Leave me with a friend, a relative, at the pound, in a kennel,
but don't leave me on the side of a road. Abandoning a dog is a crime.