I came across a story on Jezebel tonight that I just have to share. It starts off bad but it gets better, I promise.
On Thursday, a girl started screaming after being attacked in her yard. Agustin Zamora Jr heard the cries and ran outside, calling for his Great Dane, Scooby, to follow. They, with two other men, chased the attacker off into an alley where the man, fearful of the large dog’s deep barks, was held until police arrived to arrest him.
I really hope that dog gets some awesome Kongs for his part in the heroic rescue. First, it was impressive that multiple people responded to the screams and tried to help. Many people for hundreds of years haven’t responded to screaming because they assume other people have heard the screams and are already responding. This is known as Genovese syndrome or the bystander effect. It’s really disturbing to think about.
I first came upon the idea in a freshman philosophy class where we read Rousseau. He wrote about a philosopher who ignored the screams out his window. I decided that while I wanted to philosophize, I was never going to allow myself to be that complacent. This lead to an incident when I was a junior where I insisted on seeing why I had heard a girl scream outside in the winter at night (it turned out she was drunk, which made my friend even more angry as he’d been in favor of ignoring any screams one heard on the theory that I should protect myself first).
I thought of it again last year when a friend told me about her readings on Genovese syndrome after I was hyper focused on how no one had even seemed to notice when a homeless man hit me on my way to work. This, despite there being at least a dozen people around who had to have seen (and heard!) the whack when he struck my face. Being told that it was normal for people to ignore bad things happening to other people sucked, but it at least made me feel better than “those people all thought I deserved to be hit!” which was where my freaked-out mind had gone. I was convinced that somehow the other commuters thought that I somehow was acting snobbishly or in some other inappropriate fashion that justified the man hitting me out of the blue.
To think that someone not only responded to someone else’s screams, but had the foresight to call his dog along to help hold the intruder? This just amazes me. That guy is a hero and his dog is, too.
Do you have any stories of animals protecting you or alerting you to danger?
Thankfully Toby hasn’t had to do much although he did hiss at the door when two (drunk) guys tried to come into the apartment. I think they thought it was their apartment from their response when the door didn’t open! He also has been known to run at the wall between my loud, rude neighbor’s apartment and mine and act as though he’s trying to attack the wall. Very happy if that’s all he’s ever called to do in defense of me!