Yesterday I wrote up one of the most disturbing stories that I’ve published here at Dogster: the account of Marco Lavoie, a Canadian hiker who had to kill and eat his beloved German Shepherd in order to avoid starving to death in the wilderness.
I regularly see stories that are much uglier than Lavoie’s: Every day, the web is covered in stories of grotesque cruelty towards dogs such as dog-fighting rings, or things like the man alleged to have beaten the beautiful black Lab Breezy almost to death with a shovel and rake. Things like that make me nauseous and outraged, but they at least offer the solace of having clear villains. We know where the blame lies, and we can focus all our anger and hatred there with a clear conscience.
The case of Lavoie is much more disturbing, because whatever your view of the man, it’s a heart-wrenching case, and it’s harder to know where the blame lies. At worst, we can say that he was an arrogant fool who went alone into a section of wilderness that locals said was too dangerous. But killing his dog wasn’t driven by the deliberate, psychotic cruelty of those other stories. It was a choice to live, and the very idea of needing to make that choice is unbearable in itself.
As I reported yesterday, one of the only things Lavoie was able to say before he was taken into the hospital was that he wanted to get a new dog, and it looks like he’ll get one. Montreal breeder Eric Poulin said today that he wants to give one of his dogs to Lavoie. In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, Poulin, who’s raised Belgian Shepherd Malinois dogs for 30 years, expressed great compassion for Lavoie and his act.
“It’s not easy to say,” Poulin told the Gazette. “He ate his dog, but if he hadn’t done that, the dog would have slowly died, like him. This is a taboo subject: Should he have let the dog starve to death? I love dogs and I have an idea what he went through, and I couldn’t have watched my dog go through that. He took away the suffering of the animal.”
Based on the comments that the original story got, a lot of our readers don’t feel the same compassion as Poulin. The overwhelming tone is one of anger, and many seem to feel like he shouldn’t ever be allowed near a dog again, much less be gifted one by a breeder.
The very first comment, from Mitalwyn Walking Bear, set the tone:
The dog saved his life and was repaid by being killed and eaten? Too bad the bear didn’t get him.
Commenter SouthernBiscuit said:
I’m sure my dog would eat me before I ate them. That would be like killing my kid?? I just couldn’t do it….under any circumstances. No Way.
There were some who expressed sympathy, mixed with doubts, such as Dogster contributor Meghan Lodge, who wrote:
I really couldn’t imagine being in a situation like that. I think he made a poor choice to go on the trip alone, but that doesn’t change the fact that he did. I don’t think I could ever bring myself to eat my dog, but I’m also not dying in the wilderness. I think this has been an awful eye-opening experience for the man, and that a [new] dog might bring him comfort, esp if he adopted from a shelter or rescue. Take a life, save a life.
Obviously, this is an extremely emotional and multidimensional issue. What do you think? Should Lavoie have a new pet companion? Or does his experience in the wilderness make him unfit? Let us know in the comments.
Via Montreal Gazette