Most of the time, we can't prevent homicide. By the time we get the news, the victim is already dead. We didn't see the assault; we couldn't call 911 to come save an innocent person's life.
But sometimes we know ahead of time that someone's life is going to be taken. The government executes capital criminals; family members order doctors to pull the plug on comatose relatives.
And when it comes to animals, pets, we know many are murdered daily behind closed doors, often euthanized because their owners abused them, neglected them or abandoned them when they got tired of caring for them.
I understand we have too many unwanted, homeless animals. But what about government officials, who collect our taxes, ordering the murders of beloved family pets? One of my good friends was forced to put her family dog to sleep because the government gave the family two choices: subject their elderly pet to expensive tumor surgery, or kill it. The family raised and loved this dog from puppyhood to old age. But I guess a few people working for local government knew better than the family whether the dog's quality of life was no longer good enough.
No wonder some people are frightened of the government. Isn't Prince George's County the same county where the police are getting grief for a no-knock raid on our mayor's house just over a year ago during which they shot his two beloved black Labs to death? The police were tracking drugs being delivered to homes of people in the area; some of the intended recipients were involved in the transactions but others were not. In the case of Mayor Cheye Calvo's house, they had information about a drug delivery to his address, so they followed a box of drugs being delivered by FedEx, busted in and shot his dogs in what police claim was necessary for the safety of the officers. Although the probable cause for the raid has not been made public, a lot of people believe the police overreacted and didn't do enough factfinding before they took action.
But there's no drug raid in my case; the county has no pressing reason to issue a death warrant against my pet, an ancient potbelly pig named Gwendolyn. Prince George's County employees could at least have given me the courtesy of talking to me to find out the facts before ordering Gwendolyn's execution. I spoke with the chief over at Prince George's animal control, explaining Gwendolyn was 20 and wouldn't live much longer; couldn't they grandfather her in? The chief told me he would look into it and call back. He never did. He just filed the paperwork and ignored the circumstances.
So now they have come for me and my pet. I have until December 29th to murder Gwendolyn. It's murder, because there is nowhere to move her and no way she would survive the move. Elderly pet pigs don't handle being taken away from their families very well. They fall into depression and stop eating. So the only option is euthanasia.
What did Gwendolyn do to deserve this? She was a little piggy when we took her into my home in 1990. There were no laws back then saying she couldn't stay; there are no laws now except for the way the county interprets the phrase "household pet." According to county code:
"Domesticated animal means an animal of a species that has been bred, raised, and is accustomed to live in or about the habitation of man, and is dependent on man for food or shelter. Pet shall mean a domesticated animal kept for pleasure rather than utility. Pets include, but are not limited to, dogs, cats, birds, fish, reptiles, and other animals, which, by habit or training, live in association with man."
So now poor Gwendolyn is being categorized as a farm animal -- livestock -- even though she doesn't live on a farm, isn't a working animal, wasn't raised to be a farm animal (she wasn't grown to be eaten), and doesn't behave as anything but the pet she is.
Gwendolyn lived inside our house for 15 years, even after she hit 300 pounds of happy pigginess. Yes, potbellies do grow that large if you don't stunt them by underfeeding (as was recommended to owners, to keep their pigs artificially small). Most folks who got a pig for a pet when it was a fad thought their babies would only grow to 50 or 60 pounds. If the owners underfed them, they did stay small -- and they died early deaths from malnutrition and organ failure in less than 10 years. Feed them well, and you have some healthy porkers! George Clooney's beloved pig, Max, reached nearly 300 pounds and lived 18 years before he went to hog heaven.
TV Judge Jeanine Pirro's pig, Wilbur, is still going strong at 19 years. But most owners dumped their larger-than-expected swine on potbelly-pig rescue farms created just for this purpose. My "little" piggy stayed home.
Gwendolyn loved being in the house. Where does a big pig sleep? Anywhere she wants! She might climb onto the couch, or rip off some cushions and make a bed on the floor. In time, she pulled a pile of blankets and rugs into a downstairs closet and made her own "pig pad."
Gwendolyn is very smart. We had to lock the refrigerator because she figured out how to pry it open, open the drawers with her snout, and steal all the food. One day she wanted the Girl Scout cookies on top of a freestanding shelf unit, so she pushed a heavy tool chest away from the shelf and rocked it until the cookies fell off.
When I started traveling a lot, Gwendolyn became an outdoor pig with her own pighouse in the backyard. When she lived in the house, she would yell to go out to the bathroom and to spend time in the yard. When she wanted in, she would let us know just as clearly. When she moved outside, she quickly adjusted to her private house. She wandered the yard and slept in her hay and blankets. She still let us know when she wanted to be fed or ran out of water. Sometimes she'd come around to the front yard so she could visit us as we sat on the porch in nice weather. When the apples fell from the tree at the side of the house, she made her forays over there.
Last summer, Gwendolyn decided to forgo her house in the backyard and sleep out under the bushes in the front yard. We tried to coax her to the backyard, but nothing worked. She stood her ground. When autumn came, the air and ground were turning cold, and the rains started, I worried about my aged pig who didn't seem to know she should be in her house. I would find her standing in the rain, not even taking shelter on the porch. Was she senile? Had she forgotten how to find her way to her pighouse in the backyard? Again, I tried every trick I could think of to coax her into the backyard but failed.
One evening I was leaving to go to a movie when it started to rain heavily. As I raced to my car, I saw Gwendolyn standing in the middle of the yard, rain pounding down on her. I felt absolutely horrible, but I couldn't figure out what to do. When I got home, it was still raining and in the dark, I couldn't find Gwendolyn. In the morning, I went out to search for her again, hoping I wouldn't find her dead of pneumonia under a bush. I searched under all the bushes in the front yard but didn't find her. I couldn't figure out what happened to her. Then I went to the backyard, peeked into the pighouse, and there she was, snuggled nicely in the corner under a pile of hay and blankets. Gwendolyn was never senile; she just didn't feel like going to the backyard until she felt damned well like going!
This is my Gwendolyn; 20 years old and wanting nothing more than to live in her own home. She can't have much more time on this earth; she is already one of the longest living potbelly pigs in U.S. pet history. I've asked the county to leave her alone and let her die a peaceful death on her own. They have refused. So the fight is on!
Please come over to Save Criminal Profiler Pat Brown's Pet Pig, Gwendolyn Facebook page, join, and post your outrage. Gwendolyn needs your support or it won't be a very Merry Christmas or a Happy New Year for my piggy or my family.