Last night, my wife and I went off to dinner in a neighbor near ours. On the way, we happened to pass four young men (all seemingly mid-20s-ish) squatting down, overlooking a dog laying on the ground.
We immediately stopped the car and the wife jumped out to see if there was any way we could offer assistance. We could not. The dog was dead.
Apparently one of the young men was out walking his dog, off leash, and for some reason, even though the dog well trained and voice responsive, it decided to dart off into the neighborhood street and, though the street isn't a busy one, happened to get hit by a car. The driver stopped to help. Others who saw it happen stopped to help. But the dog died quickly.
Then, 10 minutes later, we showed up. The dog's owner wasn't mad at the man who hit his dog, or at the dog for darting off. Heck, he barely seemed sad. He seemed -- stunned. Completely in shock over what happened.
I, of course, went directly to that place with him - -how would I be feeling if that were me squatting there, with one of my dogs. I can't imagine.
And then I went to a different place. I imagined the man taking his dog to get a proper burial (which he planned to do) and getting lectured by someone about why he didn't have his dog on a leash. And I then imagined, after some time had passed, him wanting to get another canine companion and being rejected by the rescue organization for because he was honest and said his last dog had been hit by a car.
And I felt sad. I felt sad for the young man who lost his dog. And I felt sad for being a part of an animal welfare community that I feared wouldn't be compassionate to a young man who clearly loved and cared deeply about his pet. It saddened me to think that a movement founded on compassion, can sometimes seem to not have it at times -- at least toward the people involved.