June 17th, 2008
04:48 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: From terror to triumph

Erica Hill
360 Correspondent

A two-year-old boy left at Wal-Mart with a note pinned to him… saying his mother could no longer take care of him. As upsetting as this a story is, part of me is thankful that at least his mother – or whoever wrote that note – left him in a place where someone would find him, rather than abandoning in him on the side of the road.

When it comes to animal cruelty, I can’t stay quiet. Dog-fighting, cock-fighting, whatever it’s called, these are not “sports.” They are death matches and some of the most inhumane, cruel behavior I can imagine. For me, there is never an excuse to entice animals to maul and even kill one another. To think there are so many people who believe this is OK is just as upsetting.

One of the men connected to Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring is going to prison.  Terry Kendrick would sometimes act as a “referee” at these fights, according to authorities. He was sentenced to 13 ½ years in prison – though only six of those are for dog fighting. Authorities say this guy was connected to several dog fighting operations and even bred fighting dogs in his basement. I am physically ill at the thought of these poor dogs, born and bred to die.

OK, let’s pick up the mood a little, but we’ll stick with man - and woman’s! – bff, the dog. Specifically, Jake, a black lab from Omaha. (No, I didn’t pick this story because he has the same name as my dog… though that tidbit doesn’t hurt!) Poor guy doesn’t normally get a lot of credit… his family says he doesn’t listen very well, he’s hyper and acts “a little weird” at times. (They should see what my Jake does when he sees aluminum foil!) But Jake showed his stuff on Friday when he plucked the family’s 12-year-old son from a nearby river, churning mercilessly from all the rain.

I hope he got an extra biscuit or two.

Filed under: Erica Hill
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. H. Harris

    It amazes me to think that so many presidents and politicians have come and gone since 1973. That was the year that we received an important message. The message was a gas shortage and the begining of higher oil prices. And no one has done a darn thing about it all these years. We need to vote all of the incumbents out of office. Let new blood with a thirst for radical change take over. God bless us all..............I hope!

    June 18, 2008 at 11:47 pm |
  2. Bill in Nebraska


    I am a little late to this one. I have been very busy here lately.

    The story about the child, I agree with you totally. At least the child has a fighting chance.

    The dog fighting thing, I hate it as well. Having bred Boxers and Bulldogs, There is just no excuse for this. I think that Vic and anyone he knows that was either into this or helped him with the fighting ring should be given the DEATH penalty. It is just sick in such a way that can't be put to words.

    Now for the dog in Nebraska, Jake. Well that is why you can never be sure about a dog. Just when you think they are not listening they turn around and amaze you. They are a lot like children. Now as for you Jake and tin foil... HHMMMMM I am thinking he may have some issues... LOL... I am sure when you look into your little Jakes eyes you see the dog he is and what he will do for you without even thinking about it. How can you be cruel to an animal that loves you so blindly.

    Besides, on really cold days dogs make really good blankets... LOL

    June 18, 2008 at 2:02 pm |
  3. Julie San Diego, CA

    One of the toughest jobs on the planet is unpaid, 24/7, 365 days a year, for the rest of your life, and you couldn't even list it on your resume.

    Sounds like the mom who left her kid outside of the Walmart is overwhelmed. We should have compassion for both the mother and child. She was obviously trying to do the right thing by leaving the child in a public place – although it's not safe to trust the mercy of strangers when it comes to your child.

    We can't judge until we've walked a mile in her shoes. There isn't any relief for overwhelmed parents when grandma's not nearby.

    June 18, 2008 at 10:11 am |
  4. mjm

    so this animal abuse situation may make some people sad and angry. not to worry- there are explanations for why people behave in this manner. as important, there are individual and collective ways for people to identify and prevent this type of violent behavior. if anyone wants to get like a psychological "breakdown" of the human desire for aggression and violence toward animals, read this book, "Cruelty to Animals and Interpersonal Violence:...," by Frank Ascione. here is an overview of the book. so. now we know the poison, and we have the remedy!...
    The landscapes of violence have become too familiar, too close to home. Despite decades of scientific research, we are only beginning to understand the roots of violence that connect child maltreatment, spouse and partner abuse, and aggression in our neighborhoods and communities. Cruelty to animals is often part of these landscapes of violence-at times, a strong link to destructive interpersonal relationships. Research on this link has recently received increased attention. However, the layperson, student, and professional interested in this link often face the daunting task of locating the critical references in this area of inquiry. Cruelty to Animals and Interpersonal Violence presents in one volume historical, philosophical, and research sources that explore the maltreatment of animals and the ways people hurt each other. Diverse disciplines are represented among the readings, including psychology and psychiatry, criminology, social work, veterinary science, and anthropology.

    June 18, 2008 at 2:56 am |
  5. Mohammed Ali

    good morning ,

    well lets say all have a great day, here well lets wrap it all quick for this long blog, i had a long night NBA finals then news confrence ohh news and ac360 don't mind this its still early morning
    At a point of time after people have found a way into moving to space and using thier own oxygen to fuel the air and run motors and autos based on space natural air. As many people moved to space to start again, tho life at space turned to be the same, fact faster in all accpects of it...

    then the World Control Security Building, figured the need of bringing people or as many people back into earth to keep life in life for all parts of earth space .. and this was a special move after realizing that only earth makes life excist and brings us more beauty and space to move and be creative into.
    That had to be done in a special way, to bring religon spirit their was only one way which is make people believe that there is a possiblity for earth to survive and this was by showing that earth is different than it was, it can axctually be just as space, new beginings new races and new believes that is how bad it has became in space the new earth where life wasn't as great... human made never is comparable to the nature of earth...

    So the WCS brought world's best scinecest to compare a new method of human who is capable of showing the difference, possible truth for the people, a change!
    turely what have they done is brought a multi-minded young rockie to show the new way of making a difference on earth, but this guy had to have the good meth himself to make the difference for WCS who were commited for making this mission possible and wondered around the world to make Mr.Possible great for those people who'd moved to space to be placed back on earth. The purpose of those people to be brought to earth is because they have not accomblished enough life on earth to be the ones to not screw around back in space and make no difference.

    The truth for me I realize that earth is great, lets just save the earth..

    thank you AC / 360


    June 18, 2008 at 2:12 am |
  6. Ilhana, BiH

    Hi Erica,
    it's always a good thing when people involved in such a horrible thing as dogfighting are getting convicted, even though the sentence could have been much higher for that matter. Animal cruelty is something I simply cannot stand! I became vegetarian not because of health, but purely because I love animals too much.
    The story about Jake is wonderful, seems like his family figured out he's smarter than they thought he is!

    Thank you for the blog!


    June 18, 2008 at 1:53 am |
  7. Annie Kate

    Jake deserves a few steaks for his save of the family. Dogs are so amazing in their loyalty to their families.

    I hope if the mother of the abandoned child is found that she receives help in what is an obviously bad situation rather than punishment. I'm sure leaving him at the Walmart and hoping someone else would care for him was one of the hardest things she has ever done.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    June 17, 2008 at 11:54 pm |
  8. chad

    hi Erica,
    i have never passed by a day without hearing the voice of my mother,and i have never hang up the phone with her without telling each other (i love you).i can't believe to hear these kind of stories.It is a heart braking and is unforgiven.i can't imaging him growing up knowing his mother abandoned him.My biggest hope and wish after am done with my engineering degree is to be able to help kids and disabled people.am a single guy and very hard for me to cry,but this story make me can't stop my tears.i love kids and they make me cry whenever they are neglected.I hope that what matter the situation is ,people dose not give up on their kids ,because they can't take care of them or to make a political statment.
    thank you Erica and keep up the good work.

    June 17, 2008 at 11:11 pm |
  9. Stephanie from WV

    It says alot for society when the majority of these public postings focus on animal abuse (which is a terrible thing; we have a Jake dog too!) rather than child abandonment. Is it because we don't want to focus on the real issues at hand? Or are our priorities all screwed up? That every time we turn on the news someone has beaten, raped, or abused a child? The news brings a tear to my eyes almost daily over how we treat each other. Yes, this woman was wrong to abandon her child, but thank our lord God that she had the mindset to leave him where he would be found. Of course a police station would have been a better choice.
    Unfortunately, we are sure to see more of these child abandonment cases with our failing economy, more than likely we will see the return of the 'poor houses' of the early 1900s where parents had to make the very difficult choices of leaving their children when they could no longer care for them. On the flip side, what about medicaid? WIC? food stamps? HUD? Government funding and housing? Food pantries? Other family? In this day and age it seems like help is around every corner, I know they are always places to turn.
    I will swallow my pride and ask for help or I will starve to death before I jeopardize my child's health or welfare. Stories like this make me wish that I could open my home to other chidlren and do more. I think everyone should think of this poor mother and child tonight and hold their babies a little tighter. God bless all the little children.

    June 17, 2008 at 11:03 pm |
  10. Anyi

    It is sad that a network such as CNN will allow it's employee to go on the air to tell the whole world that HIV originated in a country situated in the continent of Africa. You have made us feel good that everything bad always start in Africa; diseases, poverty, fraud etc. Does any disease ever start in Europe. I quess the Almighty God have purified their environment and ours too. It will be nice also if you can at least teach us that Africa is a CONTINENT and not a COUNTRY. The Gay communities that were devasteted by the HIV virus must have lived in those countries and eaten those monkeys also. Anderson Cooper, shame on you and all of your arm-chair scientist. I will never watch your programs anymore

    June 17, 2008 at 8:33 pm |
  11. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    I think giving up a child when you cannot raise it is the most selfless gift. While it is sad that this boy has no birth family, it is good that he has a chance to be cared for by others who will love him. Family is what we make it and not just what we were given genetically.

    In my opinion animal abusers are as low a level of scum as child and partner abusers. They need the book thrown at them. Dogs give love freely by nature. They ask nothing in return. To take advantage of that is criminal.

    Jake deserves steak for life after going above and beyond his duties as a retriever. Labs really are awesome dogs. And chocolate labs just rule.

    June 17, 2008 at 8:03 pm |
  12. Melissa

    It infuriates me how people thoughtlessly bring children into this world. i was checking out at the grocery store and was behind a woman who already had 2 kids with another one on the way. I was so upset that she used WIC funds i.e. taxpayer money to pay for her groceries and cash to pay for junk food. If her and husband cannot afford to feed 2 children – why are they bringing another one into the world? To add insult to injury – they climbed into a fairly new Jeep Grand Cherokee. How in the world do they afford owning that and pay for the gas??

    If this mother that abandoned her child is found, she should be arrested and prosecuted. People need to be accountable for the children they bring into this world.

    June 17, 2008 at 7:57 pm |
  13. Megan Dresslar

    I agree with you....... That is so sad for boy left alone Wal-mart...... I am so mad at his mom never take care for boy! That is so disgust to me! I felt so sad for him....... I am waiting for mom take her back to jail.....
    I am glad Michael Vickers already gone to jail right now. I don't like dogs fighting each other any more. too much violence for dogs! I hope the dogs are safe place right now.
    I am glad see Anderson Cooper took his notebook wrote and video from Africa..... That is so neat! He is doing good job take assignment project program Planet in Peril 2!
    I will see you there tonight and join blog live Ac360....
    See you soon!
    Megan D.
    Shoreline, Wa

    June 17, 2008 at 7:52 pm |
  14. Jolene

    Erica: Jake deserves more than an extra biscuit, how about a steak! What a wonderful story. Just goes to show how dedicated a dog can be to their human family.

    I'm so glad that one of Vick's cronies will now go to prison. It is encouraging to see stiffer sentences go to those convicted in dogfighting. To me, breeding dogs for fighting in one's basement is really no different than a puppy mill. In both cases, the animals are bred in an environment of abuse. It really is sad knowing that there are people out there who have no regard for dogs, they just see them as moneymakers.

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    June 17, 2008 at 6:41 pm |
  15. Ruby LA. CA.

    Hello Erica, cool story about "Jake"., and oh I'm so down with you on the issue of "animal fighting" or animal cruelty or display of any kind for that matter.
    I have faith the 2 yr. old will live a happy life with a cool family, because it could had been worst., see u tonight*

    June 17, 2008 at 6:41 pm |
  16. GF

    I'm glad the woman had not killed her child or abused him out of frustration with not being able to care for him. I think it's a sad lesson in life that women must learn when it comes to having children. We cannot depend on having a man help care for a child so think before we act with bringing a child into this world. This poor boy will forever be scarred knowing that his mother abandoned him.

    June 17, 2008 at 6:31 pm |
  17. Ratna, New York, NY


    A guy in my building breeds pittbulls, they should make breeding pittbulls illegal. His pittbulls were in a fight with the neighbors Lab retriever and a guy who tried to pull them apart got bitten in the tigh. I called 911, while everyone else refused to "snitch." It's that type of neighborhood.

    Lab retrievers are my favorite dogs: They are good fetchers and swimmers. Today's Yahoo-page has a report showing Lab puppies have been bred in Japan to sniff skin cancer. Some can detect whether their owner/caretaker is going to have a heart attack. Golden retrievers are sensitive & intelligent too.

    June 17, 2008 at 6:20 pm |
  18. Jo Ann


    I can’t imagine a parent ever abandoning their child no matter how bad things are. In any case I question the decision to leave this little boy at Wal-Mart, there are too many creeps out there. If his mother felt the need to “abandon” him maybe she should have taken him to a church.

    I am with you on the subject of animal cruelty! I get trashed on a lot of blogs when I complain about things like dog fighting, cock fighting, bull fighting, horse racing, or dog racing. I am not a fan of zoos or circuses either. I just don’t believe that animals should be exploited for human entertainment of any kind. Of course animal fighting is the worst type of exploitation. I question the sanity of anyone who would get enjoyment by watching animals fight . You have to wonder how these people were raised.

    Best Friends Animal Sanctuary has been caring for many of Vick’s dogs. They are doing a wonderful job at rehabilitating them. Of course some of them can never be adopted out, but they will not be euthanized either. I sponsored two of Vick’s dogs, Ellen and Lucas, through Best Friends and I encourage others to do the same.

    I was hoping that 360 might do an investigation on the horse racing industry, especially since the recent deaths of Barbaro and Eight Belles. The HSUS is currently supporting the establishment of a National Racing Commission to protect racehorses.

    Thanks so much for that uplifting story on Tony and Jake! Animals are smarter and more sensitive than many people give them credit for. Jake showed his intelligence at just the right time!

    See you tonight,
    Jo Ann
    North Royalton, Ohio

    June 17, 2008 at 6:13 pm |
  19. Lilibeth

    The story about the boy at Wal-Mart saddened me…what saddens me more is that with poverty on the rise because of the dwindling economy, we’ll hear of more parents who can’t afford to care for their children because they lost their job, home, etc. We need something to fix our economic situation and it can’t come fast enough.

    Prison time is not enough for Terry Kendrick, IMO. This is one of the few instances where I believe capital punishment is justified. It sounds harsh, I know, but animals are helpless beings that deserve our care and love. Again, my opinion only, for anyone out there who may disagree.

    Jake would not only get an extra biscuit from me; he’ll get a whole steak! Our pets will do anything to protect and save us, even if it means risking their own lives. Their love for humans is unconditional. Perhaps this will explain my reaction in paragraph # 2.

    See you tonight.

    Edmonds, Washington

    June 17, 2008 at 6:00 pm |
  20. Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX

    Hey Erica~
    You know there are a lot of people out there that don't deserve children. As a matter of fact when people tell me their child is spoiled, I always think of the children in the world who are abused, neglected, molested and murdered. I would rather see a child LOVED!!!
    What is wrong with society?
    Speaking of, there are people who don't deserve pets either~
    I have said it before and I am sure I will say it again but people who do not respect life as in DOGFIGHTING do not respect people either.
    I have been involved with both animal rescue and child welfare and they both go hand in hand.
    If someone will brutally abuse an animal, they will also do that to a human, usually one who is vulnerable like a child. SICK!
    The good news is that exposing these jerks may help prevent others from suffering.
    You seem like a very caring person Erica. You really pushed my buttons didn't you? Sorry, I am outraged!
    Thanks for the blog. . . I think~

    June 17, 2008 at 5:45 pm |
  21. Kim in NY

    That poor mother - I can't even imagine the anguish going through her heart when she left him standing there. She had to feel so desperate, so alone. What has our country come to when a mother must make a decision like that? If she is found I hope they don't arrest her, I hope someone takes her in, or makes her aware of social services or something. This little family needs help...

    June 17, 2008 at 5:40 pm |
  22. Elsa, Canada

    It makes me tremendously frustrating to hear parents abandoning their child when they know they don't have the abilities to have the responsable of being a parent.

    June 17, 2008 at 5:27 pm |