August 9, 2013

Editorial: Humans rally to help animals


---- — Human beings can be pretty nice creatures, when properly motivated. And nothing motivates them more than the plight of struggling animals.

It helps if the animals are cute, but that’s not actually necessary. Humans swing into action to free beached whales and clean up oil-covered birds.

But if you have dozens of puppies in a situation where they are in danger or are being mistreated, the posse definitely won’t be far behind.

Sadly, it is usually a human being who puts those animals into compromised situations. We have seen too many local cases over the years of animal cruelty. It is almost incomprehensible that anyone could let a helpless creature suffer or starve, yet that is just what happens in these tragic cases.

But, for every human who can inflict hardship on an animal, many others will leap to the little critter’s rescue.

We saw it this week when word got out that two dozen puppies had allegedly been released to fend for themselves in woods in communities around Plattsburgh.

The charges say that Michael Staley, who is married to Northern Puppies pet-shop owner Tammy Staley, faked a break-in at the store, took 24 puppies, mostly ailing, and set them adrift in the woods so the shop would not be liable for expenses to treat them. Police had already charged Mrs. Staley with animal cruelty in connection with previous instances of creatures at their store not being cared for properly.

When the Press-Republican and other news outlets ran stories on the abandoned puppies, dozens of volunteers immediately set out to find them and get them looked after. Searchers brought food and water, in case they were successful, figuring the little victims surely would be hungry and thirsty after such a long, harrowing ordeal.

Police officers and civilians searched for hours on end, tramping through the woods or riding on ATVs, looking in areas where they had been told the puppies may have been dropped. Search parties were organized via Facebook, with social-media postings expressing outrage at the puppies’ plight. Meanwhile, a small crowd formed outside Northern Puppies pet shop to demand the shop be closed.

How many crimes evoke such a massive, unified response? Not many.

And what happens to animals that are found to be so needy? Most times, people are moved to step in and adopt them to make sure the tiny victims are never victims again.

When that doesn’t happen, other humans who volunteer at animal shelters will go out of their way to provide care for the animals until somebody comes along who wants them.

It’s a huge job, an unremitting responsibility, with no remuneration involved. But it will get done, because we humans are a caring bunch — some more than others, obviously.

At the paper, we’ve found that sad stories of ugly animal cruelty usually have happy endings. We hope that happens for every animal involved in this latest case.