A Frankenstein named Orville
“Shit! “ I yelped, rearing back as the snarling dog impacted the opposite side of the fence, inches from my face. Spittle flying, the pit bull continued to bark, trying to bite through the chain link to get to me. I looked over at the sheriff, who was standing a prudent distance away. “Has he been like this the whole time?” I asked.
“Yup.” He said, pushing his hat back on his head. “We got the call about 20 minutes ago.” A neighbor heard yelling and barking. Then a scream.” “We arrived to find this guy guarding the fence. He won’t let us in. we can’t get any response from inside. So we called the dog catcher. “
“Animal control officer.” I said automatically. (I don’t know why people still call us dog catchers, we do a lot more than that.) I am actually a newly minted veterinarian, but in a small town people wear a variety of hats. So here I am.
“Whatever.” the sheriff replied. “A guy named Orville Green owns the place, but we cannot get a hold of him on the phone. There is a car parked over there that belongs to him. So we think he is in there somewhere.”
“Great.” I said, studying the dog still leaping at the fence. Wincing, I noticed the cuts and scars and open wounds covering most of his body. This guy had been beaten, a lot.
I backed slowly away, to give him a chance to calm and returned to my truck to get the blow gun. Yup I use a blow gun. Like you see in all the jungle pictures, only made of metal. I can tranquilize an animal up to about 26ft with a lot lower impact than a tranquilizer gun. Perfect for animals with minimal hair and thin skin.
I waited until he was on all fours, then shot the dart into his haunch. I opened the cage in the bed of the truck as the dog ran around, trying to snatch at the dart, until he finally slowed and lay down in the dirt. Panting heavily, before rolling onto his side.
“Quick.” I shouted to the sheriff. “Let’s get him before he comes to.” We both lifted the dog into the cage, I slipping a muzzle on him noting the dried fecks of blood adhering to his nose, the name “Killer” etched in his collar. I noted that many of his teeth were broken. That happens when a dog worries at a chain trying to get free.
This isn’t looking good.” The sheriff remarked walking towards the now silent house.
I was finishing up my paperwork, when the sheriff returned, looking grim. “Doc,” he said, “I found Orville lying in his shed. He is bitten in quite a few places and his throat is torn out.
“Damn.” I said, looking at the dog sleeping in the cage.
“Yup.” He said. “Looks like he was training this dog to fight. I found sticks and chains he must have beaten it with. Plus a mess of cat and dog carcasses he used to train it to kill.” I think he abused Killer here until he could not take it anymore. So he did what he was trained to do.”
“Serves the guy right, the fucker.” I said, fuming. “He got exactly what he deserved.”
“Yes.” The sheriff said, looking at me steadily, “But you know what that means.” “He killed someone. The dog needs to be put down, that’s the law.”
I opened the driver’s door. “I need to get back before he wakens.” I said, starting the engine. As I pulled away, the sheriff called after me “He needs to be put to sleep. Doc, you know it and I know it. It ain’t fair but it’s the law!”
“God damn it.” It isn’t the dogs fault! He was beaten beyond reason!” I yelled, beating my frustration out on the steering wheel while I drove back to my clinic. “Pit bulls are not supposed to be like this, No dog is supposed to be like this.” God damn Orville and all like him to hell!”
A blare of a horn and a car looming before me brought me back to my senses. I swerved back into my lane glancing back to see “Killer” raise his head slightly, a woozy “What the fuck” look on his face, before lying back down.
“Drugs are starting to wear off.” I thought, pulling into the parking lot. An assistant helped me bring the dog, now snarling gently and kicking feebly into one of the kennels. “What’s up with this one?” He asked as we finished.
“He killed his owner. “ I said staring down. “After being tortured beyond reason.” The assistant said nothing and left as I sat down at the desk across from the kennel slouching back in the chair.
I put my head in my hands. “It’s funny.” I thought “I became a vet to help animals, and now I need to kill this one.”
Yeah,” a cold voice inside my head reminded me.” But this one has been beaten beyond endurance. His mind is broken. He killed a man. He cannot be trusted.”
It can’t be true.” I repeated, pressing my hands firmly across my eyes, “I cannot do this.” “These are our best friends! We do not kill our best friends!”
A low growl interrupted me and a chill ran down my back. I opened my eyes to see the dog, lips curled back away from his teeth, staring at me with eyes filled with hate. He did not see a friend, a protector, a companion, he saw another tormentor, a monster, a representative of all he had suffered, since the day he was born.
“Well.” The voice said. “Should I bring out the tambourines so we can sing “kumbaya?”
“Shut up.” I replied. “You are right. Isn’t that enough?”
I called the assistant to me. And between the both of us, managed to get the catch pole loop over his head to hold him steady. (Fortunately he was still feeling some of the effects from the dart). I drew one of his paws through the cage and held the syringe poised looking up one last time. He stopped snarling, and looked at me accusingly. I pressed the plunger.
As the drug flowed into his vein, I watched his jaw relax, the rage and fear slowly fading from his eyes. And for an instant, just an instant, I saw the dog he could have been, had he been loved and cherished, not betrayed by the very species he had been bred to believe in. I looked into those calm trusting eyes, until they slowly closed and the vein in the paw I was holding became still.
I entered the kennel and sat beside him, the assistant removing the loop while I removed the muzzle. I patted his head, gently, thinking about a line from Dickens, the author I read often to remind me that in all of man’s hatred stupidity and fear, there is goodness, love and sacrifice as well. I spoke my version quietly, as my tears dropped onto his fur, “Tis a far far better thing I do, than I have ever done. For it is a far far better rest you go to now, than you have ever known.”