Friday, April 15, 2005
Orange rebuffs PETA
Anti-chaining message planned in Virginia community where boy was fatally mauled
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is urging Orange County officials to adopt an anti-dog-chaining ordinance in the wake of the mauling death of a 4-year-old boy.
County Administrator Bill Rolfe said yesterday that Orange doesn't appreciate the group's input.
"Frankly, we're offended," he said. "We don't think much of an organization that uses a tragic accident in Orange County to further its political gain. They're not showing the kind of respect the family is due."
Robbie Shafer was fatally mauled Sunday by his family's Rottweiler-shepherd, which was chained in the family's yard.
His mother, Laura Shafer, said she had stepped into the kitchen of their mobile home to get her son a drink when she heard him screaming. She managed to pull the 64-pound dog off the boy, but it was too late. Robbie suffered a broken neck and died at the scene.
Authorities said they found no negligence, and no charges will be filed. The dog was euthanized.
This week, Rolfe and Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Johnson received seven-page letters from PETA asking the county to adopt a law prohibiting owners from tethering their animals, or limiting the length of time that a dog can be tied. The group included a model ordinance for the county to use.
PETA also said it plans to put up a billboard in Orange that will read: "To keep your family safe, chain your door, not your dog."
Rolfe said yesterday he had talked over the situation with Johnson and would be "very surprised" if the supervisors took any action. "Right now, we don't plan any kind of response," he said.
"PETA is taking advantage of a sad situation," Rolfe continued. "It's very poor timing."
Dan Paden, a cruelty case worker in PETA's Norfolk headquarters, said the group is mindful of the family's pain and will not put up its billboard near their home.
Oh, thanks PETA. Yes. Very mindful.
"My heart goes out to them," he said. But he added that "it's even more tragic if we don't take a lesson from it."