The recent hullabaloo surrounding dogs has given new meaning to the "dog days of summer."
This year's dog days, just like the unbearable heat in many parts of the country, especially in my neck of the woods, Cincinnati, Ohio, were thrust upon us like an albatross around our collective neck.
During August, the dog days were in full effect. Michael Vick's dog fighting case took over the airwaves. All of a sudden it seemed other dog stories cropped up from across the country. In Arizona, sheriff's deputies raided the home of rapper DMX and found 12 pit bulls tied up on the property. They also found buried dogs in his back yard, one of which had apparently been burned. No charges were filed. This isn't the first time police had taken an interest in DMX's dogs, according to an MTV news Web site. Back in 2002, the rapper plead guilty in New Jersey to charges of animal cruelty, stemming from a 1998 raid of his home. Police claimed he had neglected 13 pit bulls. DMX eventually plea-bargained down to fines, probation and community service, and even starred in a public-service announcement against animal abuse.
Here in Cincinnati a couple was arrested and charged with organizing and running a dog fighting ring, and in another case, a Black woman was arrested and charged with cruelty to a dog that was found dead in her backyard. Her nephew said the dog followed him home so he tied the dog the fence without his aunt's knowledge. The dog choked to death and the woman was hauled off to jail, tried and convicted, and is currently incarcerated, without bail, awaiting her sentence, which will not be given until sometime in September. Did I say she was denied bail?
The most bizarre case of the dog days of summer is that of the "Queen of Mean," Leona Helmsley, who died and left $12 million to her dog, Trouble, who actually abuses people by biting them. Leona, ever the control freak in life and now in death, left specific instructions in her will regarding the dog's care. She even left two of her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren out of her will. Her estimated worth was in the billions. How stupid is that? But as they say, "It's a dog's life."
We even saw the dog days of summer in the U. S. Senate Chamber when Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia went on a rant about Michael Vick. Byrd waved some papers in the air, and yelled at the top of his lungs, "Lord help him (Vick) if he is proven guilty; God created the dog to be man's companion; dog fighting is 'inhumane'; it is brutal, sadistic, cannibalistic, and cruelty of the worst kind; 'barbaric, barbaric,' let that word resound across the country; what a sin! I don't understand how human beings can so cruel to man's best friend."
Byrd's tirade reminded me of a few other barbaric acts, such as police shoving a stick into Abner Louima's rectum, and shooting Black men down in the streets with 50 bullets;.of Nathaniel Jones, who was beaten and suffocated by police officers, and Roger Owensby, who was choked to death by police officers; and Kenneth Walker in Georgia, who was shot by a police officer, and Tyisha Miller, shot some 14 times while sitting in her car. Sad to say, we never hear Senators ranting about those "barbaric" acts.
James Clingman is an author and founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce.