Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Friday, Dec. 6, Star Tribune newspaper reported about the sentencing in Scott County District Court of one Rudolph Poppe, 71, a resident of Shakopee, Minnesota. Poppe was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with credit for 24 days served already, plus five years probation and a $500 fine.

Poppe pleaded guilty in October to one count of animal cruelty. A neighbor was reported to have seen Poppe hit his 13-year-old golden retriever over the head with a sledgehammer – allegedly 15 times – earlier this year, in order to put the aged animal out of its misery. I read the article while my own dog slept next to the radiator at my feet.

The man is barred from owning another animal for five years.

You think?!

At 5:40pm on Friday, I was walking on Third Avenue South from the Minneapolis Convention Center to my house, a few blocks away. The temperature was 4ºF with a windchill index in the mid-20s degrees below zero.

At East 16th Street and Third Avenue, on the northwest corner of the Sharon Sayles Belton Bridge spanning Interstate 94, I came upon a 71-year-old man who was conscious and sitting on the curb.

The man wore neither hat nor gloves. He was attired in a thin, gray hoodie sweat shirt with a plaid-patterned shirt-type jacket over it. His light green pants were thin for summer. His hands were white with cold. He was freezing.

I had not seen if he had fallen, and I could not raise him up. He was marginally coherent.

Reaching for my cell phone, I dialed 911. “You have reached Minneapolis 911,” the recording said, “we will answer your call as soon as we can.”

I could not believe it – I have called 911 many times over the years, mostly to report open air drug trafficking, an occasional car wreck, and random sounds of gunfire – and this was the first time I was put on hold.

After a pause, the message repeated once or twice more before a live man’s voice asked “Do you have an emergency or can I put you on hold?”

Something about the call set me off and I shouted, “By all means, please put me on hold!”

He had the presence of mind to then ask “How can I help you?”

“I am a pedestrian,” I said, “and have come upon this man sitting on the curb in this cold.”

“That’s an emergency,” the 911 guy said.

I described what the man looked like and what he was wearing, and agreed to stay with him until help arrived.

A firehouse was located two blocks away, on the back side of the Convention Center, and a truck with four men pulled up within two minutes. Within four minutes, an ambulance from Hennepin County Medical Center also arrived on the scene.

As I continued walking the final three blocks to my house, I began to cry – and then to sob uncontrollably until after I was running water on my own cold hands inside my toasty warm house.

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