The worst thing I ever did.

I’ve mentioned this before I’m wanting to go into it in more depth and detail. I used to be a part of a small-town Mississippi humane society that got the county’s permission to run the local dog pound. The original dogcatcher had killed dogs with carbon monoxide, but he took the box that he hooked his truck exhaust up to, so we had no way to deal with overpopulation but to shoot dogs. I was the only man in the group, and the women all said they were too “kind-hearted” to kill an animal (although I never knew any of them to be vegetarians). Because I was the kind of man who wanted to be strong--but didn't always feel that way--and take responsibility for a task that had to be done, I shot at least two truckloads of dogs before I quit the group and the dogcatcher returned. f I had done enough of that kind of thing, I would have come to thoroughly hate my own species, and the fact that the most religious part of this country treats its abandoned animals that way worst didn’t help my feelings about religion either.

The dog pound was an open-air affair without a shade tree for 100 feet. It consisted of a row of wire enclosures which were probably no more than 60-feet square. They each had a concrete floors and an attached house. Each kennel stayed fairly full of dogs that had no protection from the 94 to 106 humid degree days of summer and the 25 to 35 degree nights (rarely into the teens and single digits) of winter. I saw it as simply another example of Christian hypocrisy given that every politician in the county was an active churchgoer, nearly all of them Southern Baptist.

One at a time, I would lead the dogs that I was going to shoot a short distance from the kennel, and hold a nine-shot, Harrington and Richardson .22 revolver to the base of its skull and pull the trigger. The dog would instantly fall straight-down with smoke pouring from the hole in its head. It would convulse for a few seconds and then go limber, blood running from the back of its head and sometimes its mouth. Most dogs realized what awaited them and they would cry, tremble, and force me to either carry them or pull them to their deaths. It was the stuff of nightmares, but at least it ended quickly, for the dogs anyway. Before I gave in and started the killing, we had dogs that were either dying during the night and being cannibalized, or else killing one another during the night, and then cannibalizing the fallen. Since they were getting enough food, I suspect the latter. They had simply become so crowded that they were deranged. When I hear people talk about the horrors of watching a massacre, I think I understand it a little because I was the killer at such an event, and the creatures I killed were innocent of all wrong other than the original sin that their ancestors committed by building an alliance with such a treacherous species as my own.

I don’t anticipate that writing about this will help me feel any better about it, probably the opposite. I share it because I know it’s interesting in a sad and grisly kind of way, and I want to be interesting. I also think it’s important to share this story because every last one of us needs to accept our specie’s responsibility for being so abominably fucked-up in so many different ways. There’s really no excuse for us, and it won’t do to say that any of us are innocent of any of it because our moral and ethical failures are species’ wide. In the movie Unforgiven, a young man kills someone and tries to console himself by saying, “He deserved it.” Clint Eastwood’s character tells him, “We all do, kid,” and I see it the same way.

I don't want to come back and edit this, so you can count it as one of the more spontaneous things you will ever see here..