Just wanted to share this story
July 23, 2002
Anyone who loves their pets can relate to the panic Christina Walker must have felt last week when she found her car was stolen with her cocker spaniel inside.
She told police officers her 5-year-old daughter Samantha was inside the car, resulting in a frenzied search involving 45 law enforcement officers.
She knew the police would give it a top priority if they believed the kidnap victim was a child and not a canine.
Once Walker's father told the officers Samantha was a dog and not a child, Walker found herself facing a felony charge of filing a false police report.
And if facing a possible sentence of one to six years in prison and a fine of up to $3,000 wasn't bad enough, it turns out Walker's fabrication was for naught.
Samantha was found dead after apparently being hit by a car near where Walker's abandoned car was found.
It's hard for some people to understand the bond that drove this 24-year-old woman to risk her freedom and cause so much panic in a city already flinching from the of children caught in the crossfire of drug deals gone bad.
Walker's lie also came on the same day a 5-year-old girl was kidnapped and later found murdered in California.
The situation of children in danger awakens a primal panic in all human beings desperate to save the innocent ones.
But like it or not, in Walker's eyes, her dog was an innocent too: a defenseless creature she loves caught in a dangerous situation.
After her lie unraveled, many animal lovers responded with empathy because they know how far society has to go in recognizing the importance of companion animals in our lives. While pets are considered a part of the family, society still regards them as unimportant as the spare tire that gets stolen with the car.
And she was worried something would happen to her dog. This wasn't a purse or a compact disc collection or a bag of newly purchased clothes. Samantha was a sentient being that feels happiness and pain. Walker obviously loved her very much.
Maybe if society recognized the valuable role companion animals play in our lives and that our love for them is much deeper than it is for anything else we "own," then Walker wouldn't have felt like she needed to lie to get law enforcement to look for her pet. She could have told them her dog was in the car, and maybe the police officers would have included that on a bulletin about the car theft so patrol officers could keep an eye out for the frightened spaniel. Television news stations may have included the information. They've responded before when pets have been lost in a car wreck or in other circumstances.
But Walker didn't give the police or the media a chance. In what must have been a panic, she told a lie that sent helicopters into the sky and officers frantically searching the streets, certain a child was imperiled.
So does Walker deserve to be punished?
Samantha, her friend and companion, died because she foolishly left her in the car while she went into a store. Maybe that heartache is punishment enough.
Does she deserve to go to prison because she loved her pet enough to lie to try to save it?
Probably not. If a police officer had been injured or someone else hurt as a result of her actions, then maybe.
Some, including law enforcement, will argue that an example needs to be set. Wanton filing of false police reports could ensue. But is that really likely?
Maybe society could show her the same compassion our animals show us when we do wrong and forgive her.