Television news programs are having a field day with Obie, the morbidly obese Dachshund. A quick Google search reveals that Obie has received media coverage from dozens of respectable, mainstream TV news outlets and major daily newspapers. At his peak, the 77-lb uber-sausage-dog weighed more than double what a dog of his breed usually weighs. His rolls of fat encumbered him so totally that he could not walk without human assistance. His former owners, an elderly couple apparently intent on loving him to death, finally gave him up, and Oregon Dachshund Rescue placed him with Nora Vanatta of Portland, Oregon. Ms. Vanatta is attempting to diet Obie back to some semblance of normalcy. Obie is a Facebook phenom (see The Biggest Loser—Doxie Edition) and Ms. Vanatta is using Obie’s celebrity to raise money for his hydrotherapies and other needs.
By all accounts, Obie is a very sweet dog and he certainly deserves a better fate than paralyzing obesity. Saving Obie will take months and tens of thousands of dollars. If Ms. Vanatta and others want to devote their time and resources to caring for a sweet, obese dog, that is a beautiful thing. But the story, unfortunately, doesn’t end there. Oregon Dachshund Rescue sued Ms. Vanatta for Obie’s return, charging that Ms. Vanatta was misusing the funds donated for Obie’s therapies. The litigation lasted months. (Vanatta prevailed.) Meanwhile, the Humane Society estimates that roughly half the dogs and cats brought to animal shelters each year are put to death—at least three million animals capable of being perfectly good pets. The main reason is a lack of money. As the story of Obie transforms from light human interest to pure tabloid voyeurism, millions of equally sweet animals die without a word. // Michael Adelberg