“If you don’t come back, I’m going to kill your dog!”
A video file came from nowhere. To her surprise, it was her former boyfriend—with whom she used to live—in the video. In it, she was horrified by the threat that he would kill her dog, Ato, if she didn’t come back to him. The estranged former boyfriend had failed to deal with his sense of betrayal over the ended relationship, and had decided to intimidate her using the blameless and powerless animal as a hostage. With the childish and immoral thought that “you should feel the same,” he had made innocent Ato a scapegoat for his pain.
They had had another dog besides Ato. But after she left, the other dog’s whereabouts became unknown. The man said that he had “got rid of the dog,” although there was no way to know for sure whether he killed the dog, gave it away, or abandoned it. In the worst imaginable situation, if he had killed the dog, Ato might have witnessed his friend being murdered.
We have come into contact with many cases of death or abandonment of animals due to dating or domestic violence. Animal abuse cases can be fined, but we cannot bring dead former pets back. So when we received a rescue request from the woman, we moved quickly to rescue Ato before anything permanent happened to him.
The situation was very time-sensitive, but we were finally able to rescue Ato after a lengthy discussion with the man, finally securing a signed waiver of ownership, while at the same time trying not to startle the upset man. Fortunately, Ato did not appear to have been as seriously injured as the man had claimed. The former boyfriend seemed to be suffering from depression and merely trying to threaten the woman by holding the dog hostage.
Ato is finally out of the hands of the man, but he could not live with his female former owner either. Ato’s safety could not be guaranteed while the woman was under threat of retaliation by the man. After all, the woman has requested us to protect her dog.
Ato, even after becoming the victim of violence at the hands of one of his owners, still seemed to miss them. He won’t let anyone touch him except the CARE Korea employee with whom he has had the most contact. He is also often aggressive, which we attribute to the trauma of his former situation.
Ato was once a loved pet in the home of a couple. Now he has been more-or-less abandoned because the humans who had kept him were either unable to deal emotionally with the break-up or unable to look after him as a result of the break-up. It may take a while for Ato to adjust to his new situation, but we hope he can find another loving forever home soon to speed his recovery.