PUT THE OUTRAGE AWAY Editorial Once in a great while you get a story that reverberates through this community. A story like this takes on a life of its own. Everyone talks about it, or wants to talk about it, or wants to talk about everyone else talking about it.
Until the next thing comes along, you hear about it everywhere you go.
So it has been this week with the sad story of death of Bentley, the year-and-a-half old black Lab who was fatally shot by Newcastle farmer Lee Straw Nov. 14.
Since last we left this story, there have essentially been no new legal developments, Newcastle Animal Control Officer Mark Doe expected to finish his report and turn it over to the District Attorney's office this week and we are waiting to see what charges, if any, are filed.
Socially however, the storm Bentley's death kicked off has not subsided. At press time there are now more than 1900 "likes" on the Facebook page "Justice for Bentley." and the tone of their ire has not lessened.
In fact, posters who dare take up for Lee Straw on Bentley's page are frequently told to take their comments elsewhere, usually in no uncertain terms. If anything is outrageous about this case, we take issue with the histrionics of some of Bentley's advocates and the level of vitriol they have leveled against their target.
We suggest Straw's harshest critics take a deep breath and calm themselves down.
Although in this case, Bentley escaped from a well-intentioned friend who showed up to dog sit for a few minutes, it doesn't really matter how it happened. The fact of the matter is he was on the loose and legally, loose dogs are the responsibility of the dog owner.
Another fact is loose dogs and livestock are a famously bad combination. That is why the law appears to favor the farmer in cases like this. The sweetest lap dog is still a predator and the most powerful sheep is still a prey animal. These roles are hardwired into their DNA. Outside of a Disney movie, they are never going to shake hands and be friends.
We have heard of efforts to build a boycott of Straw's Farm products. Based on this one incident it's a terrible idea. Straw's Farm is exactly the kind of organic, local producer Mainers talk loud and long about supporting and Lee Straw is exactly the kind of hard working, small businessman Mainers should be supporting.
Animal lovers who would boycott Straw's Farm because of this event are akin to the meat lover who can't bear to think about where their favorite cut of steak comes from.
Lee Straw may be a lot of things, but a cruel, heartless man who doesn't understand animals, he is not.
Bentley's death was an ugly, avoidable event. There is no doubt about it. His passing no doubt leaves a large hole in the lives of those who loved him and we empathize with their pain.
It is possible that another person, finding themselves in the same exact position Lee Straw found himself in Nov.14, might not have taken the same action Straw did. However, Lee Straw had the right to take action to protect his livelihood.
While the pain will linger, the outrage should not.