by Katharine Dokken - June 29, 2016.
At left: Katharine with renowned tiger trainer Carlos Quinones, Mindy Patterson, President of The Cavalry Group, and exotic animal trainer Doug Terranova at the USDA Headquarters, Washington, DC, 2016.
When natural disasters strike, the response of mankind is fairly typical. In this fallen world, many will step up to help, but many others will step up to take advantage of the situation for their own benefit. Whenever a disaster strikes, looting is one common result. Criminals rush in to steal the belongings of others. Recently parts of West Virginia have suffered from what they are calling a 1,000 year storm. In some areas, nine inches of rain fell in just a short time flooding many small and poor areas. Homes have washed away, people have lost everything. Sheriff Steve Kessler in Fayette county has warned looters that while he will jail any looter he finds, locals may take the law into their own hands and the thief may never make it to jail.
"Anyone we catch looting will be arrested and jailed," Kessler said in the statement. "If the residents of this area catch you first, you may not make it to jail. If you are not a resident of this area and don't have family members in the area you are trying to help, you need to stay out of this area."
Other con artists have also started online charity accounts and GoFundMe accounts begging for cash for their suffering, only to find out they were never involved in this disaster at all. But one common response to natural disasters is almost never discussed. That is when do-gooders wrapped in a cloak of self-righteous idolatry descend upon a disaster area and go around stealing the pets of the disaster victims. They proudly proclaim to the media and their circle of friends that they "rescued" these pets and then they transport them home as some sort of furry bounty for their benevolence in providing aid to the victims. It's as if they say, "This is my reward for helping those people." The problem is, they are nothing more than looters. The animals they are stealing belonged to the disaster victims who are now being victimized twice.
While this behavior has always happened, it became morally righteous in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Thousands of pets were stolen from Katrina victims and shipped north under the guise of "saving" them. Thousands of families who survived this horrific disaster never saw their pets again. Some of them believe their pets were killed in Katrina not knowing they are alive and well and living in some rich northerners home. Same too in the aftermath of the Joplin, Missouri tornado five years ago. Looters ran around stealing pets out of people's back yards and immediately shipped them out of state as so-called "rescued" animals, reselling them off to the highest bidder. Stealing is stealing no matter what false guise of morality you put over it.
People have attacked me over my stance against pet theft and whine and cry that "God will bless" these thieves and send me profanity laden tirades at my lack of morals and humanity for daring to object to the "rescue" of animals. Our society has lost its way so badly that what is wrong is now right and what is right is now wrong. God has stated very clearly that Thou Shalt Not Steal. When you take someone's family pet out of a disaster area and transport it hundreds of miles to your own home and declare it to be yours, you are a thief. You haven't rescued anything.
In the recent West Virginia disaster, a man named Matt Harvey, a man running for the office of Prosecutor in Jefferson County traveled 300 miles from his home to deliver disaster supplies to hard hit Clay County. A good deed. However, while he was there he found a cute friendly well socialized and cared for dog and decided she should be his as a bounty for his good works. He posted a brag to social media, a "look at me" brag, a "look how good I am" brag to state that he found this dog and intended on driving her back to his home as his new pet. He supposedly "rescued" this dog, but the floods were a week before he arrived. He didn't rescue her from anything. He came into the aftermath of a disaster and found her. A true rescue would not only save her from some sort of existing physical threat, but it would also involve feeding and caring for her and then ultimately returning her to her owners. The whole point of rescue is to return an animal to where it belongs. Not take it as your very own.
Matt Harvey is running for the office of prosecutor. A man who wants to uphold the law and use it to go after all of the rest of us, therefore his actions should be beyond reproach. The entire United States, from coast to coast, no matter what area, has laws in place on what to do if you find an animal. There is no such thing as "finders keepers" when it comes to the property of others. He is not following the very laws he is demanding the right to uphold against the rest of us. As a lawyer, there is no excuse for his lack of knowledge of the law.
Human behavior never changes. Matt Harvey is running for public office. What better way to buy the votes of gullible voters than to claim to be some sort of animal loving saint. After all the Clintons did it to great success. It was only after they were out of office that Buddy the black lab was immediately dumped. They no longer needed the good will of the public. Buddy never meant anything to them. They just used him as a vote buyer.
Only time will tell if "Clay" the dog will end up the same way. If Harvey truly cared about upholding and abiding by the law he would have turned this dog into the local authorities, waited the mandated hold period giving the owners time to claim their dog, and then applied to adopt it after the hold period was over. You know, the legal way. Nor would he have used this occasion to brag across social media on his political campaign Facebook page about his so-called do-gooder activities. A true do-gooder doesn't ask for public ego stroking. Then again, Harvey already has a dubious past. Operating as a DUI defense attorney and defender of accused pedophiles, he himself was arrested for DUI in Jefferson County in 2014. Apparently do as I say, not as I do is already a problem with him.
In either case, a thief is a thief no matter what excuse you slap on their behavior.
Update: After this article went viral and I posted on his campaign FB page to protest his actions, Matt Harvey has now listed this dog on a Lost & Found Pets page to claim that he will return the dog if the owner claims it. Only time will tell if he does.