A Call for Help
by Bessie Mac
Have you ever seen, heard, or said something that put that painful pit in your stomach and sort of lingers in your mind in a replay over and over? Well, that happened to me about three weeks ago, and it keeps flashing back in my mind and lies very heavy on my heart. It’s times like this when I am thankful that I have an avenue to share my experiences and thoughts with others.
Three weeks ago, on Sunday, June 26, I went to Wal-Mart to pick up a few items. I live in Glendale, Arizona, and I’m not too far from the Wal-Mart on Northern Ave. and 55th Ave. It was about 3:45 p.m., and it was 112 degrees outside. As I turned into the Wal-Mart parking lot, I noticed an older, dark-colored van – or maybe it was a truck with a shell over its bed – with an awning on its side. A large sign said, “For Sale – Poodles, Chihuahua and Lhasa Apso Puppies.” I was surprised to see a street corner puppy sale because it is no longer legal in Arizona in counties with more than 800,000 citizens. (You can read about that by clicking here. I’m going to be writing a separate article soon on why it’s not illegal in the entire state of Arizona.)
Looking ahead, I noticed there was an empty police car parked in front of Wal-Mart about a hundred yards away, so I continued to the store. Entering the store, I inquired where the policeman was, and was informed that he was in the security room. The greeter was kind enough to call the store’s security for me.
A pleasant security gentleman came to speak with me and listened politely while I explained that there was an illegal sale of puppies going on in the parking lot. He stated he would notify the Glendale police officer who was in the store at the time, and departed into the security office. I waited a couple minutes and then went about doing my shopping, thinking the policeman would notify animal control and felt confident he/she would deal with the two men selling the puppies.
Forty-five minutes later I had finished my shopping and started back to my car. I was surprised to see the two men were still there selling the puppies. I reentered the store and saw a different security man. I again explained about the puppy sale in the store’s parking lot, and asked if the policeman had been notified, or if animal control had been called. The security man stated, “Oh, they are out there again?” – implying that this was not the first time the men had been in the parking lot selling puppies – and he informed me that the policeman had gone to lunch and nothing had been done to his knowledge, nor could he do anything.
I left the store feeling very upset and not knowing what to do. I couldn’t call the police myself as I have not owned a cell phone for three years. As I drove by the two men selling the puppies, I thought speaking to them might make a difference, so I drove over to them and parked my car.
When I got out of my car and walked over to them, there was a lady there who seemed nice, and she was bargaining to buy one of the two little white poodle puppies. I heard the man give her the price of $200.00 for the poodle puppy. She offered him a lesser amount, and held the puppy up and said to me, “Isn’t she so cute?” I simply nodded yes, wanting to get to where I could see the other puppies, and she continued to barter with the older man. I made my way to the basket of puppies.
Inside the basket were two fluffy Lhasa Apsos laying beside each other in a corner. I touched one of them only to find it was very bony beneath all that fluff. Just as the horrible realization dawned on me that they weren’t breathing, my eyes landed upon three tiny, tiny little Chihuahua puppies. They were lying on their sides beside each other. Their little mouths were struggling with fish-breathing gasps.
The young man, who was selling the puppies alongside the older man, stood there holding the other poodle. His expression turned to worry as he saw the stunned look on my face, and he pushed the small poodle at me saying “Cute, cute!” in what I believe was an attempt to distract me. I nodded and touched the little poodle only to feel a very thin boney body beneath its fur.
My eyes riveted back to the Chihuahua puppies in disbelief. My heart jumped out of my chest. It was 112 degrees out, and they could not have been more than four weeks old. I was dumbfounded at the horror of seeing them struggling desperately to breathe. Somehow I managed to touch the tiny foot of one of them, and he tried to lift his head, but could not.
Oh, my God. They were dying from the heat and needed help immediately. I could hear my own voice screaming inside my head, and panic rushed through me. I looked at the older man still bargaining with the lady over the poodle puppy, and realized he knew they were dying and he did not care. His only interest was money. He knew the two Lhasa Apsos were already dead, and his only concern was to get as much as he could for the poodle puppy.
The situation was desperate. I only had a couple of dollars on me, and I knew that it would not be enough to offer him. How was I going to get the three tiny Chihuahuas out of his hands and to a vet? What could I do?
As I hurried to my car, I felt so helpless, and yet so filled with rage that someone could be so callous with those precious puppies. I fought back another wave of panic that screamed at me to hurry and get help, and tried to think clearly. Foolishly, I thought if I told the people at Wal-Mart how serious the situation was, that the authorities would be called, so I rushed back to Wal-Mart and explained to the same security man from a few minutes earlier about the desperate need for help for the three Chihuahua puppies. He nicely explained he could not call the police or animal control himself, but that he would call a manager. I thanked him.
Minutes felt like hours while waiting for a manager, and my anxiety grew to unbearable levels. My mind raced with the knowledge that time was running out for those three baby Chihuahuas. I asked myself why I hadn’t looked at the puppies when I first arrived. If only I had, maybe I could have pleaded the puppies’ plight better. Maybe all of them could have been saved. My mind was running wild with all of the “whys.” I chastised myself unmercifully.
When the manager arrived, he listened to my pleading for him to call authorities and the dire situation with the puppies. He remained quiet and expressionless as I explained about how I had asked for the policeman to be informed of the puppy sales, and that it was imperative to call the police and animal control now if the puppies were to be saved from heat exhaustion and death.
On my insistence of calling authorities, the manager seemed to become annoyed that he had been called away for such an unimportant matter. He explained that he was a lesser manager and only the top two managers of the store could call the police, and that he would tell them when he got a chance. He suggested I go home and call the police myself.
I felt helpless and trapped in my inability to get immediate help for the puppies. I had explained that I did not have a cell phone, nor did anyone there offer me their cell phone. Oh how, how could people care so little?
In blind desperation, I ran to my car and headed home to call the police, knowing it would take at least fifteen to twenty minutes before I would be able to make the call. I had explained this to the manager at Wal-Mart, but he just looked at me with an unconcerned expression and shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “Oh well.”
I struggled on the drive home to remain a responsible driver, because every fiber of my being wanted to put the pedal to the metal! I didn’t realize it until I reached my home, and the phone, that I had been crying uncontrollably and my hands were shaking so badly that I could barely dial the number.
I called the Glendale Police general line and spoke to a female police officer. After explaining the situation, she asked me what kind and color of vehicle they were driving. To my surprise, I couldn’t remember. I thought it was a dark-colored truck with a shell, or a van. I felt so angry at myself for not being more observant. My only thought had been to save the puppies.
As the conversation continued, I couldn’t help but beg her, with tears, to get animal control over there quickly to help the puppies. She assured me she would have the situation checked out, but I did not hear urgency to her statement only in my voice.
Hanging up, I called a friend – Jeffrey Tye, who works with Foothills Animal Rescue – and he said his rescue would help the puppies with immediate medical care, and later find them good homes. After we hung up, he immediately started making calls to set up medical and foster care to help save the puppies. We had agreed that I should go back up to Wal-Mart and let the police and/or animal control know that the rescue group was on board to care for the puppies.
So I rushed back to Wal-Mart, only to find that they had gone. I asked a person collecting carts in the parking lot what happened to them, and he said they just packed up and left. He hadn’t seen the police or animal control there. I prayed that didn’t mean that they hadn’t been there, but I felt in my heart that they had not come.
Upon returning home, I called Jeff to let him know that the puppy sellers had vanished and about my failure to save the puppies. I knew without medical help the tiny Chihuahuas would not live. My heart was broken. I then proceeded to sit down and cry.
A hundred things went through my mind that I could have done better, and I felt such anger at the policeman in the Wal-Mart security room. He had driven right past the men selling the puppies. Why did he do nothing? I couldn’t help but wonder if Wal-Mart had given these men permission to sell those puppies there, since they did nothing to help me, or did the policeman not feel it was of importance? He could have called it into the station or animal control if he was there on another matter. To me, breaking the law by selling puppies on a street corner in 112 degree heat is important. I was equally frustrated and angry with the Wal-Mart manager who was so insensitive to my call for help for the three tiny Chihuahua puppies.
I have carried a heavy heart around for three weeks. The vision of the probability that those five tiny lifeless bodies were probably thrown into a dumpster as if they had no value except for money, flashes before my eyes frequently. I believe all manner of life is of value, and worth a call for help when needed. Especially for those who are so helpless.