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STORY OF NEGLECTFUL DOG OWNER MORE COMPLICATED THAN IT SEEMS

AS YOU MIGHT SUSPECT, Lennon "Reese" Carr has some problems.

Carr is the guy in whose apartment police found six starving dogs a few weeks ago. Cops said two were for dog fighting, the others were food for the fighters. The picture in The News of one of the animals, ribs showing, ruined breakfast for thousands.

Carr was arrested and the dogs were taken to the SPCA, where they're doing well. The boulder of public disdain landed on Carr's head.

It landed again Wednesday, when he said he wanted his dogs back.

Anybody out there who thinks Reese Carr should again be a pet owner raise his hand and step forward.

I didn't think so.

The real question here is whether Carr is despicable or merely pathetic.

As I said, he has some problems. Problems that might make one regard him with at least a crumb of sympathy.

He's mentally slow. In fact, he gets Supplemental Security Income (SSI) checks because he has mental or emotional problems.

Carr told Buffalo News reporter Lou Michel, "My mind is messed up and I don't pick up things as quick as other people."

Carr's neighbors on Miller Avenue, on Buffalo's East Side, don't need any convincing.

"He acts like a little boy, even though he's a grown man," said a guy from the neighborhood, who declined to give his name. "One day I was walking down the street and he tried to argue with me about some petty junk. He's crazy in the head."

Aside from anything else, if Carr had all of his wits about him, he wouldn't keep talking to the media. Every time he opens his mouth, the story gets another life.

He was all over the TV Wednesday, claiming he's just a little forgetful when it comes to animal care. He says a neighborhood couple told police stories of dog fighting and the like because they want him gone, so
they can convince his girlfriend to sign over her SSI checks to them.

It sounded farfetched, until another neighbor -- who has no love for Carr -- said he suspected the same thing.

Carr supposedly spends a lot of time playing video games on the TV. The words "Reese & Cedrina," his girlfriend's name, are scrawled a few times on the apartment door, the way junior high kids going steady do on their notebooks. A mattress is spread on the floor of the apartment. He lost his job as a cook at a fast-food place in the downtown mall. All of which seems more sad than despicable.

A neighbor said Carr keeps to himself and seems nice enough.

"Maybe he just couldn't afford to take care of them properly," said Yvette, who declined to give her last name.

So maybe -- not positively, but maybe -- Carr isn't as monstrous as it first sounded.

Maybe.

But he ain't no good guy. And there are a few things to remember before anybody's heart bleeds for him.

Sources say cops were familiar with the Miller Avenue address, and not just because Carr isn't Frisky's Man of the Year.

The great majority of people who are mentally slow don't go around starving animals. If Carr felt he was in over his head, help was a phone call away.

He never dialed.

"Whether he was starving the dogs to feed the fighters, or merely neglecting them, either way it's a crime," said the SPCA's Barbara Carr. "If somebody hadn't shown up, that one puppy wouldn't have lived another two days."

No, Reese Carr shouldn't get his dogs back. He used up his book of chances, and more. There's something wrong with people who would let so-called pets starve in rooms covered with their own filth. Experts say it's a short step from abusing living things with four legs to abusing those with two.

By the way, none of nearly a dozen neighbors I talked to thinks Carr should get the dogs back either.

As to whether he's despicable, or merely pathetic -- well, we'll call it somewhere in between.

And we'll pray for any living thing that ever comes into his care.

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