What sparked the question was this news story:
Dogs Left Caged For Nearly 4 Years
The New Hampshire Humane Society said a woman in Plymouth who was unable to care for her dogs left them caged nearly all day long for at least the last four years.
Police confiscated the dogs late last month but did not charge their owner, who police said is elderly and suffers from a medical condition.One dog spent so much time caged up over the last few years that he still has a hard time standing up.
"He's the dog that really tears at my heartstrings the most," said Marylee Gorham, of the New Hampshire Humane Society.
The 17-year-old Jack Russell terrier is named Napoleon.
"Over time, he has just become very crouched up and arthritic, to the point now if you see him standing, which is very difficult for him, he can't stand straight. He's kind of all crouched up and obviously in pain," Gorham said.The shelter supervisor said that when the dogs came in, one named Buttercup was the most under-socialized.The details of the owner here aren't clear. They say the woman is elderly, but not how old. They also say that she has a "medical condition," which is so vague as to mean almost anything. But this isn't the first story I've seen of this nature and probably will not be the last. (Although I cannot recall the details now, I saw a neglect case involving a small child living with a grandparent described with similar vague circumstances some time ago.)
"When you'd go in her kennel, she wouldn't go near you. We couldn't get her out of the kennel. She was afraid of the leash itself, and so we would just sit in there with her day in and day out," said animal care supervisor Gina Carita.
I have a lot of compassion for those suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia as their mental faculties are clearly not capable of comprehending and addressing their own needs, let alone anyone else's. But I'm seeing stories like this pop up, criminal scenarios involving older people who are suffering from age-related illnesses that are not mentally-deleterious (or aren't clarified), but they're getting a pass nonetheless. I believe the reasons are varied in nature (some fair, some not), but I want to know the opinions of others.
I also know that this can be closely related to animal hoarding and hoarding in general, which are considered mental illnesses and require treatment --however, typically the infirm are still held responsible for the clean up and follow-through.
What do you think constitues a fair pass in cases like this? Do you think being "of a certain age" or "physically limited" allows people to get away with things, fairly or unfairly? Why/why not?
Thanks for your thoughts in advance.