Leah Parsons, founder of the East Coast German Shepherd Rescue, has announced that she is closing down her rescue operation. Parsons is the mother of Rehtaeh Parsons, who died in April 2013, after enduring bullying as a result of reporting a gang rape at a high school party in November 2011.
Rehtaeh passed away in a suicide attempt that caused her to become comatose. She died when the decision was made to take her off life support. Her father, Glen Canning, has publicly stated that his daughter was disappointed to death because none of the boys responsible for assaulting the then 15-year-old girl and taking pictures of the incident, were charged. Despite the distribution of the images taken of the assault, it was determined by the authorities at the time that it was a community issue.
Only in August 2013, nearly two years after the assault, were two teens charged in connection with the photos that were distributed from the incident. The public outcry over the handling of Rehtaeh's case caused authorities to re-open the file and investigate. Further reactions from the Canadian Prime Minister's office also led to the details of the case being re-examined.
On September 1, 2013 Leah Parsons wrote:
It is with Heavy Heart that I must say goodbye to my love of this rescue that was born out of a Love for the breed and witnessing too many Shepherds being killed due to misunderstanding of the breed. Its been almost 7yrs that the rescue began and we have achieved much more than I ever dreamed. Hundreds of dogs from the States and locally have been saved. Im still working on getting an exact number. A guess would be about 600 dogs that would have died if ECGSR has not stepped in to save them. As you know it hasn't always been just Shepherds because the reality is we love ALL dogs and all deserve a loving home. Rescuing dogs has given me so much joy and the wonderful group of volunteers that make all of this happen are Angels that walk among us. To them I am so grateful. Lucky for me I also met Jason through this rescue who shares a love of dogs with me. He adopted several dogs from me over the years and when we merged homes, I got them all back. : )
Since my daughter (Rehtaeh) left us in April, my life has been extremely difficult to say the least and my heart is shattered trying to make sense of it all. Mourning our loss and fighting for justice has been overwhelming. I am unable to continue rescuing dogs and the ECGSR will be dissolved. At this time, we still have commitments to a few dogs that are coming. The rescue will continue until all the dogs are adopted and our vet bills are paid off. We still have some events and will complete everything that was already planned.
Op-Ed: This is very sad news. Many dogs and their owners can be thankful for Leah Parsons for all she has done over the years. I believe it was her rescue that took in homeless dogs from California in the past who were in need of re-homing. It takes a huge heart to be a rescuer for the many years that Parsons ran the East Coast German Shepherd Rescue.
No doubt, it is understandable that she is still grappling with what happened. No mother should have to lose their child. When the story came out about the circumstances and events leading up to the loss of her daughter, many were beyond shocked and saddened by the tragedy.
I blame the boys who harmed her daughter for somehow being a cause in this, albeit indirectly. The damage caused by their actions is heartbreaking. Since I'm Canadian I can say this without being accused of being ignorant of the Canada's justice system: I strongly believe that had the crime against her daughter happened in the US, those responsible would be facing a much tougher penalty or would at least have been charged with a crime when Rehtaeh was still alive.
Furthermore, I agree with Leah Parsons about how German Shepherds have been killed because of misunderstandings about their breed. However, there is a reason this is the same breed used in law enforcement. As much as I love these dogs I'd be terrified if I were chased by one. That said, it would be fitting to see those boys bitten by a K9 though. Putting all their bite work practice to good use.