A few years ago, while we were in the process of moving to Wisconsin from Texas, I was making one of my regular househunting trips. I was flying from Houston to Milwaukee on what my husband calls a "Barbie jet", a small commuter jet that probably holds about 50 people. Teeny, tiny with low headroom and only three seats per row.
We pushed back from the gate and headed out to the runway but it was a typical Texas late spring afternoon and there were thunderstorms in the area. The captain announced that we were going to have to wait until the storms had cleared before we could leave.
So we waited.
Hour one and two passed fairly quickly. We were in good spirits and joking. Passengers read their books and magazines and the flight attendant passed out soda and pretzels. The single lavatory on the plane was still clean.
Hour three: We were trading magazines and getting restless. We looked hopefully at the crew members every time they passed by. Maybe they would give us good news about our departure or more snacks?
Hour four: We were out of food and drink; probably a good thing since the lavatory was smelling bad. The flight attendants asked if we would refrain from using it because there was no way to clean or empty it. The first officer came back and got down on his hands and knees to check on the galley floor for any wayward packs of pretzels. He mumbled something about ordering out for pizza.
Hour five: Passengers were grumbling wanting to know why we couldn't go back to the gate and get off. Our good humor had disappeared. Our legs were cramped, our stomachs rumbling, our bladders full, and there was no way to get comfortable in the tiny plane. When the crew members walked by they got the evil eye and a lot of complaints. They stopped coming to check on us very often.
Hour six: Unbearable. If we could sit there for six hours, maybe they would expect us to sit there for ten hours? Or twenty? Or maybe forever? When would this nightmare end? How could they treat us like this? Like caged animals? Passengers were irate. I'm sure that violence could have erupted pretty easily. I wouldn't have been surprised if the crew members were locking up all glass and sharp objects.
And then finally - a break in the storms and we were cleared for departure. And we were off. And that was only six hours.
Monday, June 11th is the one year anniversary of some of Milwaukee's Court Case Dogs. These dogs were seized one year ago in a police investigation that has yet to be completed. One year. In tiny cages. With very little socialization or exercise or human interaction. Some of the dogs were puppies when they were seized.
The staff say the dogs are now dangerous, too dangerous to handle. No exercise, no mental stimulation, with no end in sight.
Animal welfare workers call it "cage crazy". I call it stress. And just like I returned to a normal state of mind when I finally reached my destination on that horrible flight; these dogs can also reach a normal state of mind - given time, exercise, training and understanding. All they need is a chance. A chance to be evaluated fairly and independently.
Unfortunately, the buck is being passed - round and round and round. Nobody that has the authority to do something about these dogs will stand up for them and take the lead. Everybody says their hands are tied.
Even though, as we speak David Mangold, a concerned citizen who runs the Save Milwaukee's Court Case Dogs Facebook page is lining up sanctuary and foster homes for them.
Even though just 90 miles to the south, Chicago's Court Case Dogs are given a second chance for a good life.
Even though the most notorious case, the dogs seized from Michael Vick, Atlanta Falcon's quarterback, have now become the Vicktory dogs, because their rehabilitation has become such a success.
Even though the American Bar Association, the National Animal Control Association and even the Humane Society of the United States have issued statements regarding humane treatment of seized dogs; somehow this all gets overlooked in Milwaukee.
So, as you take your dog out for a nice walk or a romp today - please remember the Milwaukee Court Case Dogs. It is their anniversary. One year in hell.
How you can help: David Mangold has organized a chip in to pay for the legal fees required to get a legal opinion written that will help interpret the Wisconsin State Statute that deals with court case dogs. Please consider donating a dollar or two so that we can get this done as swiftly as possible. Here is the link: http://gamble.chipin.com/legal-fund-mke-court-case-dogs
Like and share the Facebook page: Save Milwaukee's Court Case Dogs
American Bar Association Supports Justice for Victims of Animal Cruelty by Ledy VanKavage
National Animal Control Association guidelines for seized dogs
HSUS Changes Policy on Dogs Seized From Fight Busts by the KC Dog Blog
Milwaukee's Forgotten Dogs by Kathy Pobloskie
Michael Vick scandal: Five Years Later by Francis Battista, Best Friends Animal Society
Link to the TMJ4 coverage of the story: Man wants new program for Milwaukee dogs seized during police raids
Link to KISS-FM Radio Interview: