This post is one that conjures up tears and anger. First of all, diabetes is insidious, but you already knew that. It touches so many parts of the patient’s life and her/his family and friends.
Four years ago, the good community of Quinlan in Hunt County pulled together when they learned that 11-year-old Hannah Westmoreland had been diagnosed with diabetes.
Instead of holding a pity-party, they raised $10,000 to provide a service dog — a Golden Retriever named Journey — to help Hannah know when her timing might be off kilter.
That effort created a match made in heaven between Hannah and Journey, who had been raised and trained specifically to help a diabetic situation.
Together Hannah and Journey were inseparable.
That is, until this past Sunday, when Journey was found just lying on the ground outside the house. Without thinking why, the family took Journey to the vet where, despite surgery, the Golden Retriever died.
It was then that the reality sank in. Journey had been shot four times.
For the Westmoreland family and the Quinlan community, it was gut-wrenching. This was not the tale of a little girl losing a four-legged friend. It was the loss of a caregiver who’d been destroyed needlessly and the devastating loss to a little girl.
According to CBS’s report, Hannah’s mom Tina Westmoreland summed it up, saying, “He [the shooter] took Hannah’s little hero for no reason. S/he took what has saved her life more than once. She’s about to get her driver’s license and he was going to protect and he was going to be with her while she was in college to keep her healthy in college.”
Hannah put it simply, saying, “He was my best friend.”
But for the community, the question is simmering — “Who in their community would shoot a helpless dog trained to provide comfort?”
While the loss of Journey is being processed, the questions still are out there —
- Who would shoot a dog four times?
- Who amongst them would shoot a helpless service dog?
- How do you fill Journey’s role in Hannah’s life?
On that last point, there is nothing that can replace Journey. But there is another creature that can carry on the mission of the Golden Retriever in supporting Hannah.
For more info, check out justice4journey.
* Photo courtesy of Hannah Westmoreland Facebook ** Photo courtesy of the Westmoreland family