ImageSomething horrible happened last week. A pit bull female was found, barely alive in Quincy, MA, near Boston. The woman who found the dog, tossed along a roadside, thought she had been hit by a car, she was so mangled. What the vet discovered was far more sinister.

The dog, whose name was posted as Puppy Doe until further information came along, had cigarette burns, she was emaciated, a knife had been dragged across one of her eyes. But the worst was yet to be revealed, as xrays showed that she had no fewer than 17 fractures and she had been drawn and quartered repeatedly. That means people played tug-of-war using her limbs. In addition, her vertebrae were crushed from being beaten with a bat, and her skull was crushed, from the same type of beatings. This poor baby girl had gone through the worst of torture. Because she was no longer able to walk, and her injuries were so grievous, she was put down with a full belly of kibble and pain medication on board.

Of course, the animal-loving community from around the world is furious. Through initial publicity of the case, it was discovered that the dog’s name was Kiya. She had originally been a loved pet with two other dogs, not Pit Bulls. But because of her breed, the woman’s landlord said she’d have to rehome her. Which she did. Through Craigslist. And this was the final result. 

As everyone down the line is asking questions about the lax animal cruelty laws in our country, and as people are rightly rallying to have Craigslist remove free pet ads from their site, the threads are bursting at the seams with Judeo-Christian babble. 

“She’s in Jesus’ arms now,” read one, which I’m sure made her feel better. 

“There is a place in Hell waiting for the person who did this to her,” said another.

This is one of those times where it’s unfortunate to be an atheist. Because I get no such sense of justice. If this person is never caught, then I know he or she or them got away with it. Just like anyone who has murdered someone and buried them in a grave that has never been found. 

The truth one has to swallow as an atheist is that people get away with horrific things all the time, and probably always will. Whether or not the torturers of little Kiya are caught or not, I have to accept that she is dead. That is her reward.

For this reason, I think it’s been harder on me than the many Faithful I have seen online. I can’t offer it up to a god and let it go. And I know there is zero point in trying to ask them the tough questions that they don’t want to answer, like where their god was when that little dog was screaming in pain, as her body was being pulled apart and those with her laughed. Just like I asked where that god was when Polly Klaas was being raped, or as flies lay eggs in the eyes of starving babies not quite dead all over this planet, every day. The answer to me is obvious. There is no backup plan. It’s us. I don’t get that peaceful image of Kiya, healthy and happy once more “playing over the rainbow bridge.” Kiya, like so many other animals, like so many other humans, died a horrific, painful, prolonged and terrible death. Her suffering is over. 

But in order to protect those who are suffering right at this moment, counting on a Hell that doesn’t exist, or self-soothing with images of puppies playing in the Heavenly sun (all while many religions don’t even let animals into Heaven anyway) often takes the wind out of people’s sails. It retards, if not stops, action. Because there is no question that many changes need to be made in our justice system for those who do get caught. The woman who tortured, starved and then threw Patrick the Pit Bull down her NY garbage chute got off without jail time. She’s totally free at this moment. 

Knowing that there was no other-worldly reward for Kiya, just as there was none for anyone snuffed out in such a fashion, it’s something that sticks with you if you don’t have the god crutch. But in that sadness, I think. I puzzle. I join up with those who are mobilized and are searching for ways to actually solve the problem. Here. On Earth. I don’t pray for a fix. I don’t soothe myself in the knowledge that Hell is awaiting this sick person. I was mobilized for animal rescue before, but this, this particular incident is a crucible. It’s something that is galvanizing people on social media, and already there is a bill calling for increased penalties for animal abusers drafted in Massachusetts by a Democratic senator there. It’s not enough, but it’s moving in the right direction. Petitions are being signed going to not only state representatives but to President Obama himself. Millions of names have been added. Rewards are being raised to encourage someone to come forward and stop this particular sadist from doing this again. These are things that will move things in the right direction.

Further down on the same feed, however, is the page for another recently-found abused Pittie girl who is in very poor shape. She has taken a turn for the worse, and prayers were asked for. They were offered, in spades. Which has nothing to do with an actual solution. But it probably made a lot of people feel as if they were doing something, and better. 

But not me. Sometimes reality sucks. But it IS reality. And it’s that reality that puts a fire in my belly to solve these problems, not the sugar-coating of them.