Aptronym is a personal name aptly or peculiarly suited to its owner. We often get a kick out of what this (difficult to remember) word means when we think of Niall Hatch who works for Bird Watch Ireland and Gillian Bird who works for DSPCA.
This week I thought of this word when I looked at the upsetting images of the Bichon and Aikita who were the victims of crimes committed at Ashton Pound. David Stone, who was running this pound at the time of their deaths, this week appeared in court.
Stone: cold and hard comes to mind and as you look at the dying, stressed bodies of these dogs – they are lying on broken, concrete floors….cold and hard is all they had when their bodies craved comfort from a bed, from a kind hand, from a veterinary intervention. David Stone provided none of these: in fact he had a euthanasia drug (meant to be administered by vets) in the pound office, that could be used by staff. He allowed a euthanasia drug to be kept unlawfully on his premises which was administered incorrectly to these two dogs. He was fined €30,000 in a criminal court. A drop in the ocean when you think of the lucrative contract awarded to him for years to run pounds for local authorities in Dublin.
Now this is where this post could go in many different directions just like most intelligent and empathetic minds would as they chase the ‘WHYs?’ of this incomprehensible cruelty case. Like why did so many local authorities repeatedly award this man the tender when they knew of many legitimate concerns about how dogs were treated under this Stone. Bad practices weren’t swept under the carpet: they were highlighted but they were ignored. Another Why? Why was a Bichon put to sleep? Lots of rescues take this breed as they rarely take up a valuable rescue space for long. And even with issues, they are often easily rehabilitated. Many would have taken the Akita too. Did any of us see these dogs posted on social media needing a home or a rescue space. Did anyone ever see dogs posted with nice photos and write-ups from this Stone? Why? Why not? Did this Stone not see them worthy of that. But searching for homes takes time and calls, and time and calls is money lost to this Stone.
We owe so much to the dog warden who walked into a Garda Station to look for help for these two dogs poisoned-dying slow excruciating deaths for days. We owe so much to the Guard who listened to this man and immediately went out. But there wasn’t just one whistle blower: the two dogs and their deaths meant no other dog was to die under this Stone.
Now let’s look at the references presented in court about this Stone to help appeal for leniency in sentencing. They outlined how he was conscientious and diligent. I wonder would they let this Stone mind their dogs or would they write a different reference if they sat in those stone cold kennels where these dogs (and probably many others given the amount of euthanasia drug in the office) died very slowly and alone. How conscientious are they to write a reference for a man who permitted this? One reference was from a vet: hardly Sydney Nagle of The Cara Vet Group who was the supplier of this lethal drug? Was it too much for Mr Nagle to travel to the pound to afford these dogs their dignity when the decision was made to put them to sleep. Or was this Stone trying to cut corners and costs by throwing a few quid for a few bottles of it. You know yourself! Where there is a quick buck to be made or saved! Didn’t he meet his match in Nagle?
I talked to a vet about this case and she said the privatisation of this service is the crux of the issue. Men like this Stone are in it for the money, not the love of dogs. Can pounds be run like a rescue where the utmost is done to find home-able dogs a home? Yes, they can, and yes, they are. So many pounds care, really care but then you have pounds like Stone’s: cold and hard on animals.
At the end of the day, these dogs are gone and our upset and anger won’t bring them back where we get to see their happy ever after in a home or back home. Stone, Nagle and relevant staff denied them this. But Stone was the manager: he set the culture and practices in this pound. He was also the money-maker: he wanted to make money or save money on the back of these dogs. There is money to be made and saved in killing dogs.
So I think it’s only right and respectful to give the beautiful Bichon and the regal Akita names as this Stone didn’t do names. We who care are so sorry Carlin and Asthore. Yes, names are important, and sometimes we become our name. For these dogs they now will be champions (Carlin) for saving many others and treasured (Asthore) in our memories. But a Stone will always be just a Stone.