Back in the fall, Bluestem interviewed Austin’s National Socialist Movement leader Sam Johnson, who had been trying to recruit new members by organizing anti-immigration rallies.
He’s back in the news, but not for advocating racial segregation or stripping all American people of color as well as Jews of their citizenship. This time the headline in the Rochester Post Bulletin concerns the cruel treatment of another species, Neo-Nazi cited for animal mistreatment:
Austin police have cited a local man who led neo-Nazi rallies downtown for abandoning his pit-bull dog when moving out of a rental home.
Samuel James Johnson, 29, is being cited for a misdemeanor count of mistreating an animal and is scheduled for a March 1 hearing in Mower District Court.
According to the police report, an Austin community service officer got a report about 4:40 p.m. Feb. 1 of the abandoned dog from the property owner at 304 Third Ave. N.W., from where Johnson had moved. The dog was left behind in a locked cage on the home’s front porch with no food or water, the report says.
The officer found the male pit bull in the locked cage with feces inside the cage and no food or water.
With the dog appearing to be vicious with its growling and barking, two other officers helped tranquilize the animal to transport it to the city pound. . . .
This situation most likely spells a sad end for the abandoned dog. Was it vicious before being left caged without food or water on a porch in the dead of a particularly harsh Minnesota winter? Would its attitude had been better had not Johnson left him confined to soil the cage? Odds are that no one will try to discover if the abandoned dog responds to humane treatment.
Friends who have rescued pitbulls and pitbull mixes responded to this story with language ordinarily too strong to use here, as well as anger about the dog’s probable fate. I agree. If kept by kind and responsible owners, the breeds commonly lumped together as “pitbulls” are wonderful dogs.
The bad publicity that bad owners create for the breed is a real problem for pound and shelter dogs. Like cities all over the country, Austin has a shelter full of lovable pit bulls. In October, the Austin Herald reported in Humane Society struggles to find homes for pit bulls:
It can be hard to overcome a bad rap. Just ask any homeless pit bull.
Pit bull is a term commonly used to describe several breeds of dog – typically referring to American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
There are too many pit bulls and too few homes in the Austin area, according the Mower County Humane Society.
“It is alarming, and it is putting a squeeze on us,” Vice President of the Mower County Humane Society Barry Rush said.
At the time being, half of the shelter’s dogs are pit bulls, pushing them over capacity. The Humane Society currently has 18 cages and 22 dogs.
“It’s a problem throughout Minnesota, throughout the country,” Rush said.
The situation has been on the rise for the past six months in the county, and Rush does not expect it to slow down anytime soon.
Rush blames the problem on the over-breeding of pit bulls and a negative reputation that makes people not want to adopt them. . . .
(The article mentions a cat that was the no-kill shelter’s longest resident; shortly after the article was published, she found a good home).
As for Mr. Johnson, who knows. The terms of his probation state that he must obey the law, but who knows whether a misdemeanor count is enough to send him to St. Cloud to serve remaining time on his felony convictions.
Whatever Johnson’s fate, I have to concur with the judgment leveled by my dog-owning friends: “Asshole.”
Photos: Sam Johnson at one of his anti-immigration rallies last summer (above); Cruiser, a pitbull available for adoption at the Mower County Animal shelter; though not Johnson’s latest victim.