Imagine this situation: A dog is hit by a car and injured. A police officer says the dog is beyond saving, and he is going to shoot her in the head to end her suffering. Would you intervene?
The dog is named Skye Bleu. Dawn Julian, her owner, got her as a sickly puppy -- near death -- and nursed her back to health. In fact, Julian suffers from mental illness, so Skye Bleu was an important companion that she likened to a "service dog."
A Tragic Accident
A few months ago, Julian moved to a new home, and she temporarily left Skye Bleu with a friend during the move. The dog got away and was hit by a car along a busy stretch of highway in Salisbury, N.C.
One driver, Bobbi Parke, spotted the dog trying to lift her head up. "I went up the road and I knew I had to help. I turned around and I cried for a minute, because I was afraid of what I was going to find -- and I called 911."
Parke joined other drivers who were already at the scene. Kathleen Bostian said her heart was breaking as she petted the dog.
"There was blood coming out of one eye, and she didn't seem to be able to move her back legs," Bostian said.
After numerous frantic calls by passing drivers and bystanders at the scene, the 911 dispatcher finally said, "Yes, we've received several calls. We have an officer on the way."
An Officer, Not a Veterinarian
As Officer Bill Smith assessed the situation, he said: "I'm not trained in veterinarian medicine. I looked at the dog. [She] had lacerations on [her] body and was not able to get up from the runway at all."
Smith called his sergeant three times to explain the injuries. The sergeant advised him to put the dog down.
Parke overheard the orders and began to challenge police: "That's not acceptable," she told police. She stood near the dog and started praying.
Another driver, Mike Snyder, recalled, "One of the ladies offered to pay for the vet bill if they [the police] would take it to the vet, and he wouldn't do it."
Bostian added, "'I'm not allowed to do that,' he kept telling us."
Salisbury Chief of Police Mark Wilhelm said that the firearms policy mandated that, out of compassion, an animal shouldn't be allowed to suffer.
But just as the dog was about to be shot in the head, the Good Samaritans said, "Enough!" Smith, gun drawn, described how Snyder got in the way to pet the dog.
Citizens Take Charge
People got back on their cell phones and contacted the president of the Humane Society, Jane Hartness. Acting quickly, Hartness called 911 and said, "We've got a rescuer on the way."
The dispatcher told the police not to put the dog down, and Smith was relieved when the rescuers arrived. "No officer wants to put an animal down," he said.
Within minutes, Skye Bleu was gently carried away by rescuers to a veterinarian, and after Skye Bleu was administered pain medication, she stood up and walked. With medication and stitches, the prognosis was excellent for full recovery.
Good Samaritan Parke went home, but she wasn't done.
"It just seemed barbaric to me to shoot the dog. Why weren't there any procedures?" she wondered as she began to write letters.
Not only did Parke persuade the newspaper to write a story about what had happened, she also persuaded the Humane Society to train police on handling injured animals.
In a program that the State representatives say should go nationwide, the Salisbury Police Department will now call the Humane Society or other rescuers.
Then another miracle: Skye Bleu's owner, Julian, was on the Internet and saw the story Parke persuaded the newspaper to publish. Julian contacted the vet and was rejoined with Skye Bleu.
As she hugged her favorite companion, who had helped so much in her struggle with mental illness, Julian said, "If it wasn't for people like Bobbi Parke, Jane Hartness and all the others on the cell phones, Skye Bleu wouldn't be here!"
Said Wilhelm: "Thank goodness for some citizens saying, 'Stop. Enough!'"