While most people in Chicago cheered the recent rescue of Pifas, the lost dog trapped on ice in Lake Michigan, there are always the trolls who voice their self-righteous indignation that money and manpower are being spent on mere animals.
Commenter on WGN website:
Are you serious?? Rescuing a DOG rather than saving Human lives?? 911, we have four calls of people being attacked, and one of a dog on ice,, which do you choose?? WE are going to rescue the dog because it's alot easier!! When do dogs rate higher than human lives?? So once again lemme get this straight because maybe I'm confused about the whole risk your life to save an animal thing. SAVE A HUMAN!!! Chicago has been rated as the murder capitol of these United States and somehow a DOG is more important!! Get you heads outta you collective bungholes and go back to SAVING US!!! Source
In 1985, a young and obviously not very bright humpback whale appeared in the San Francisco Bay where "Humphrey" became a media star, appearing on local TV news every night.
Then for reasons known only to Humphrey, instead of swimming back to the ocean, he decided to explore the Sacramento River.
In spite of many attempts to get the 40-feet long, 36-ton whale back to salt water and his food source, Humphrey continued his adventure until he reached a dead end slough 69 miles from the ocean.
For weeks hundreds of people, thousands of dollars and many ideas went into numerous attempts to lure or force him back to the ocean. Being in freshwater was taking a toll on Humphrey as he was showing more and more signs of physical stress as days passed.
It was during this time that my dad visited us from Indiana. As we were watching the news, Humphrey was, as always, the lead story.
I started to explain the back story to him, expecting that he would roll his eyes at yet another silly California story.
“Oh, Humphrey. How is he doing? Do they have him headed back to the ocean yet?”
“You know about Humphrey?”
“Sure. We get daily updates on him in Indiana.”
It seemed that Humphrey the wayward whale wasn’t just a local story. People all over the world were rooting for him and for all the people trying to get him back to his home.
Letters to the editor and local call-in radio shows were swamped with the self-righteous, furious that all that time and money was being spent on an animal when there were people in need. I'm sure they felt a certain moral superiority being, you know, so concerned with people in need. The subtext of their message is to make us feel guilty.
Humans working together to help an animal in distress, these are stories that should bring us together as compassionate human beings, the kind of situation that should unite us in our humanity and make us better people. But I guess we’ll always have the trolls.
Eventually a plan was worked out to borrow a powerful speaker and amplifier system from the Navy to play recordings under water of humpback whale songs to lure Humphrey down river back to the ocean. It was a long shot. No one knew if it would work.
The plan involved a huge crane to remove barriers to free him from the slough and state-of-the-art technology. Oceanographers, teams of scientists from universities, fish and wildlife agencies, law enforcement, the Coast Guard, the Navy, and the Army were all involved in the elaborate effort.
As helicopters circled overhead and people cheered from the shores, Humphrey finally swam under the Golden Gate Bridge back to the ocean where he could go on with life…26 days after he took a wrong turn.
And the world felt good about what had been done.
Except for the trolls.