To the person who killed our dogs

Published 8:37 pm Friday, April 19, 2013

By Michelle Hendrickson

You are a coward. It is inconceivable that anyone could have plowed down two large 60-pound animals in the road and not stopped to see if they were alive or how badly their vehicle was damaged, especially at the excessive speed you must have been traveling.

Even amongst the shattered faces, broken backbones, twisted bodies and trail of blood and organs you left in the road, did you not see the collars they both wore? Or perhaps even their dog tags sparkling in your headlights? My phone number was on those tags. How could you not have called?

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We found one dog not long after you killed her. It took more than an hour to pick up all the pieces of bone, skin, and muscle that lay along the path you dragged our darling Dixie. I am curious to know if you thought of the parents who had to tell their children the 13-year-old friend and family member they have loved all their lives was gone.

After an exhausting and sleepless night of searching for our lost babies, the task of having to break the hearts of our children was overwhelming. 
Having found only one body, I clung to the hope that I would find our beloved Taro alive. I hung more than 100 signs in the area, posted flyers at local businesses, and stuffed 400 flyers behind mailbox flags.

I had mail carriers, recycling truck drivers, garbage truck drivers, landscaping companies and hunters on the lookout. I asked veterinarians, animal emergency hospitals, grooming parlors and boarding kennels to call me if he was brought in.

Alerts on Facebook and Craigslist locally and across the state were shared nearly a thousand times. I placed classified ads in multiple newspapers. I repeatedly visited animal shelters throughout Hampton Roads. I asked Public Works if they had found him on the side of the road.

I involved the police department and lawyers to help me return a call from a restricted number from which a possible sighting was reported. I even attempted to bring in a search-and-rescue dog to find him.

Strangers called to say they were sorry and that they were looking for Taro. But you didn’t.

After 11 days of searching on foot and in the car day and night — not eating, not sleeping — I stumbled upon Taro. He was hidden in a ditch amongst tall grass, visible only when standing directly in front of where he lay. Given his close proximity to where Dixie was found, his twisted body, and his advanced state of decomposition, it was evident he died along with her.

Can you imagine the fresh pain our family suffered? If only you had called. So much false hope and agony could have been avoided.

When you drive by the place you hit them, I wonder if their crosses bring you guilt? Does the stain on the road cause you remorse? On behalf of your soul, I have forgiven you for the death of my darling dogs. The anguish caused by your cowardice, however, is yours to live with the rest of your days.

Michelle Hendrickson lives in Suffolk.