It was 10 p.m. on July 1, 2015.
I remember being exhausted that night … having returned to Santa Barbara from a challenging trip with my lawyer husband. I just wanted to sit back and relax. So I nestled in with my four dogs, a glass of wine and the local newspaper. On the front page was the story of Davey.
I saw the eyes of the monster Chen staring out … and my life changed forever.
The article left me distraught … I could NOT comprehend the barbaric evil of a human torturing a helpless puppy over a long period of time.
The story triggered a combination of emotions I had never known. Numb … I was numb… enraged. Not caring about the late hour I phoned the newspaper and then I called the vet where Davey was treated and ultimately euthanized. Dr. Andrea Wells … who had the horrific job of ending Davey’s sweet, short life was still working. She picked up the phone. We had never met but we wept together … for Davey.
I read the article again and again. Not only had Chen committed the atrocious torture of Davey but he had also attacked his girlfriend.
Santa Barbara District Attorney Joyce Dudley had recommended a seven and a half year sentence but our local Judge Brian Hill gave Chen just one year in the County jail.
I never slept that night. The following day I wrote this letter to the paper ….
The following days were a haze of rage and grief. A terrible violation had occurred … of Davey … of our community …. of me. Our innocence was gone. All that was left was the vision of Davey’s face …. staring out at us … a voiceless agony nobody could hear or do ANYTHING about … any more.
And Chen would soon get out of jail and be back in our community.
We couldn’t just do nothing …. and so we met at a local bank. A dozen women …. most from the world of animal rescue. We sat quietly around a large table. It didn’t matter who we were …. we gathered for the same reason; a profound sadness over the brutal torture of an innocent puppy. We wore a mask of pain. There were plenty of tears at that meeting.
And frustration. Thanks to the decision of Judge Hill.
Over the following week or so we met again… deciding to hold a protest. Most of us had NO idea whether it was the right thing to do. It DIDN’T MATTER. We called friends, printed flyers and posters and sent our message to social media.
And suddenly “Protest Day” was upon us.
Despite the terrible heat and humidity of that Sunday in July nearly 1000 people turned out for Davey.
The protest infused us with new energy and a clear mission ….
PREVENT ANIMAL ABUSE
Get the community informed and activated
Our impromptu group met again and again.
We formed Davey’s Voice:
Over the weeks there were several hearings in the Courtroom of Judge Hill. Davey’s Voice members attended EVERY one of them:
There was considerable confusion at the hearings because Judge Hill was very vague in his court proceedings … never making it clear as to the status of Chen and what he intended to do regarding the pending release. It was very frustrating.
And then we found out for certain that Chen was being released early and so we issued a Petition:
The Petition was signed by more than 16,000 people. We hand delivered it to Santa Barbara Sheriff Bill Brown:
Despite the signature of nearly 16,000 people Chen was released to ICE after just six months.
On March 8th Chen was deported to China where sadly he will be free to torture innocent …. voiceless animals again!
Davey's Voice WILL move forward.
We want to remain a fluid, nimble organization with the ability to help where we are most needed. And if anyone asks where my heart and commitment remains at every second and every minute and every hour of every day, the answer is best expressed in the following poem that I wrote on the eve of our protest.
I wrote this for Davey.
For ALL the Daveys.
For many of us …. loving animals … fighting for animals
Is a lifelong journey …
And for many of us … it is a lonely … a solitary journey …
One that is sometimes misunderstood ….
Some might think our devotion is fanciful or silly.
But today I look out at you … and you and you and you …
And I think ….
I am NOT alone.
YOU are NOT alone
WE are NOT alone
DAVEY is NOT alone
We are here …TOGETHER …
TOGETHER …. We WILL make the WORLD …. SAFE for little DAVEY.
Gretchen Lieff 3/18/2016