One little fox has been gaining a lot of attention on social media, for one very unique reason. While she may have a disability, the folks at the Kentucky Wildlife Center are determined not to let that stop her.
When you walk through the doors at the centre, you may be greeted by the friendly house cat waiting for an ear scratch, or the curious bunny ready for her close up.
“That’s what we do here. We take care of every animal to the max,” said PK Blankenship.
For some, it’s a place to rest and rehabilitate before being released back into the wild. For others, it becomes their home.
“She’s come a long way, she really has. It used to be that there wasn’t any movement in those back legs at all,” Blankenship said.
Asia the three-month-old Red Fox became a “permanent resident” back in May. She was found by a Boone County couple who immediately called the center’s director, Sam Opp, when they saw Asia try to walk.
“They noticed she wasn’t using her back legs,” Opp said.
It’s a disability Opp believes Asia has had since birth, and something that would have left her defenceless, and eventually dead, in the wild.
“You would never know she can’t use those back legs. She thinks she’s a regular fox. She pounces like a regular fox. She jumps like a regular fox. She crawls over you like a regular fox,” Blankenship said.
But what you may not see on a regular fox is the shiny wheelchair.
“Sometimes it’s funny. We put her in it and she’s like a NASCAR race driver. She takes off,” Blankenship said.
While Asia may have the need for speed, learning to use the chair isn’t always a smooth ride.
“I’m not saying she won’t bump into something, it does frighten her. It’s just like as a child. She would tumble off her mom and shake it off,” Blankenship said.
Still a wild animal, there are days Asia isn’t in the mood for physical therapy.
“If she’s just having a bad day, she’ll get more free time, which is after every session anyways,” Opp said.
With the help of Opp, her handler Blankenship, and the wheelchair, she will most likely be able to walk using her back legs one day.
“She has shown improvement in using those back legs to actually stand on her own. She is a very determined fox kit. She’s not giving up and we’re not giving up on her either. We’re in it for the long haul,” Blankenship said.
If you have enjoyed this article can you please SHARE for others to enjoy. You can also SIGN UP to receive updates and news straight to your inbox.
According to the FBI, animal abuse is highly correlated with interpersonal, human-to-human violence. Serial killers often torture or kill small animals from an early age, and men who commit child abuse or domestic violence very frequently harm household pets as well. “If somebody is harming an animal, there is a good chance they’re also hurting a human,” said John Thompson, deputy executive director of the National Sheriff’s Association, in a 2016 interview.
A&E Real Crime spoke to Dr. Chris Hensley, associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, for some insight on why these two behaviors are linked—and what we can do about it.
Why do people hurt animals in the first place? People who harm animals go after someone they perceive as weaker. Many serial killers feel a sense of rejection from their parents or from someone they love; there’s either a perceived rejection or a real rejection. Rather than going after the person who rejected them, they’ll start with something that’s weaker, and often that’s an animal. It’s a matter of power.
At what point does it progress to human beings? Some research suggests there’s ‘graduation’ hypothesis, where killers start with animals and move to human beings later—and it’s often someone they perceive to be weaker than they are: prostitutes, for example, or hitchhikers, or the elderly. Other people think that animal and human abuse starts at the same time, which is called ‘generalized deviance theory.’ That’s where a kid might hit another kid and then go home and smack their cat. I think it’s somewhere in the middle, a combination of both [theories]. Your research team asked prison inmates about their experience with animal abuse. What’s the most surprising thing you’ve found? Finding out that there’s a powerful link between bestiality (sexual relations between a human and an animal) and later interpersonal violence. We don’t know why there’s a connection there—it’s a fairly new area of study and there’s not a lot of literature, but what we know is people who commit bestiality at a young age are significantly more likely to commit interpersonal crime than those who don’t.
[Bestiality] is still rare, of course, but of the people who have committed it, they’re significantly more likely to go on to hurt human beings. Also people that have a method of abusing animals—like strangulation—usually use that same method in hurting human beings. [Serial killer] Henry Lee Lucas, for example, slit the throats of his animal victims as he was sexually abusing them, and then eventually did that with women.
How common is animal abuse? What are some warning signs? Most studies since 1980 have shown a link between childhood animal cruelty and adult interpersonal violence. We also know that it can be co-concurrent with child abuse or elder abuse. It’s very common in a domestic-violence situation, especially if it’s the victim’s animal.
We’ve seen multiple cases where you have someone engaging in domestic violence that ends up not only killing the person they’re abusing, but then they go back and kill the pets as well. I think it’s because the pet is an extension of [the victim].
In Chattanooga, if you’re in a domestic-violence situation, we have a family-justice center that will allow survivors to stay there and there’s an animal hospital nearby that will board your pets for free.
What else are states or law-enforcement officers doing to keep animals safe? Tennessee actually became the first state to have a registry—you can go online and look at who in the state has been convicted of animal cruelty, similar to sex-offender registration. Depending on the amount of cruelty, that person is prevented from owning animals. Tennessee is the only state that currently has one, but I know that the FBI is also looking at developing a database as well.
What else could states be doing? It’s taking a long time for states to really look at the impact that childhood animal cruelty has on later violence. A lot of states have dragged their feet in making animal cruelty a felony, and there are some states that don’t have any laws on the books related to bestiality at all.
Around 2002 and 2003 a lot of states got rid of sodomy statutes, and those states would usually have bestiality underneath that umbrella of sodomy. Those laws became nullified so states had to write their own laws for bestiality specifically, and some haven’t been quick about doing that.
How can we prevent animal abuse before it progresses into interpersonal violence?
To me, treatment is key for children who engage in animal cruelty. Oftentimes parents or caregivers will say “boys will be boys” or turn a blind eye to things, instead of admitting something is really wrong with their child. Most parents know when their kids are engaging in this behavior.
We need to say that any form of animal cruelty, should be unacceptable – if you see your kids doing it, that’s a warning sign, and something has to be done. If you see animals being mistreated please report it to the police.
Original story by Sarah Watts in A & E, Real Life Crime.
Please SHARE to raise awareness to the link between animal and human abuse. You can also SUBSCRIBEto receive news and updates direct to your inbox.
A two-legged street dog from Thailand that was shot in the head and left to die has been rescued by a Canadian family – and now even has her own wheelchair. Lara Pleasence, 51, from Montreal, Canada, first heard about Amira’s tragic story through the Soi Dog Foundation, based in Asia. Administrator and personal trainer Lara first saw Amira in a video posted by the rescue centre in Thailand in October 2020. “This poor dog who was born without legs, lived on the streets having litter after litter, then after nine years of struggling to survive, someone shoots her in the head,” Lara told Jam Press. “I just broke down and cried.”
Amira was treated for her head wound by the Soi Dog rescue centre who shared regular updates of her progress on social media. “Sweet Amira was always wagging her tail; it just broke my heart that she still trusted humans even after everything she’d been through. “I knew I had to contact the rescue to see if I could help in any way, maybe even offer to be her forever family, although they doubted that she would ever be well enough to travel.” After a tense wait, the Soi Dog Foundation contacted Lara to tell her that Amira had recovered enough to be put up for adoption. “I was so stoked and so worried about what my husband was going to say, since we already had three dogs,” Lara admitted. “There was something about Amira, this incredible connection I felt for her from the very first time I saw her. “I wanted to right all the wrongs that were done to her, I just felt compelled to try. “I wanted desperately to show her all the love, security, happiness that she deserved, that every dog deserves, and that this poor sweetie had been denied for so many years.”
To qualify to adopt Amira, Lara and her family had to go through a strict application procedure – including a virtual home visit, interview process and form-filling. “I was made aware that we would have to pay for her to be flown to Canada since, because of Covid, they didn’t have travellers who could take her on the plane for free.” “I think I would have mortgaged the house to get this sweet girl here.” When Amira touched down in Montreal in April 2021 after a 22-hour journey – which cost $2,000 – it was love at first sight. Lara said: “My husband was none too happy about even the idea of another dog since we already had three, but I told him that I had never felt this way about any rescues that I had seen. “I was so excited that we were getting her, I was practically bursting, and he knew that fighting it was a lost cause – happy wife, happy life.” Amira came with her wheelchair, after a man in Vietnam made a custom one for her and it was gifted to the pup by Soi Dog. “She literally came bouncing out of her crate and jumped all over us like the happiest kangaroo you’ve ever seen.” “She’d been in it for over 22 hours and didn’t even have an accident!” “We couldn’t believe the joy she exudes.
She is a true miracle. After everything she’s been through, Amira is fun-loving and outgoing. “She’s so trusting, she loves everyone she meets. “She absolutely loves to be held in your lap and will sleep there for as long as you will let her. “She is resilient and doesn’t let her past hold her back from trying new things or doing something a bit scary like canoeing or going on our paddleboard. “She is obsessed with our bed… If we’re not home, we have to block the stairs because we can’t risk her falling. “How a street dog, with no front legs, knows how to climb stairs is just one of Amira’s many mysteries. “She’ll let me kiss her nose 50 times in a row, my other three dogs will eventually pull their head away, but not Miss Amira, she loves it. “She gets these crazy puppy moments where she runs around on her nubs and jumps up on the furniture then flies right back off it. “These moments make my heart smile because it’s like she finally doesn’t have a care in the world and can just be a dog. “No more struggling for food or to keep her puppies safe and fed or hiding from bad people.”
Now, Amira enjoys a happy life spending her days with her family and playing at her favourite spot. Lara added: “She loves going to the dog park, even though many of the dogs get freaked out by the “transformer dog” with wheels and just bark at her.”
In videos posted to Instagram (@amira.amiracle), Lara shares Amira’s adventures with her new set of wheels. In one comical clip, which has been viewed over 725,000 times, Amira runs after a cat and ends up doing a headstand when she hits a curb. “She just waits for me to pick her back up and she keeps on going like it’s no big deal,” said Lara. Another video shows her gradually getting better at walking in a straight line with her wheels. Followers of Amira’s page are in love with the pup, and she regularly receives gushing comments. One person commented: “So beautiful to see this! You’re amazing, sweet and strong Amira.” “Love u Amira very much,” said another viewer. “She’s amazing and you’re amazing with her,” added another person. Lara is grateful for all the support and says she is touched by the comments she receives. “The people who follow Amira on Instagram are the sweetest,” she said. “They are so happy that she has a family that loves her now. “Some say Amira’s posts are their daily dose of ‘good feels’ or that her videos are ‘good for the soul’. “People feel they need to thank me for taking her, which is so kind, but I always tell them that it is my privilege to give her the best life that I possibly can,” “It’s the least I can do for such an angel. “I can only hope that her page may inspire someone else to help a special needs dog or donate to an organisation like Soi Dog Foundation so they can continue their amazing work.”