As ThinkProgress has been reporting all week, South Fulton Fire Department firefighters from Obion, Tennessee, stood by and watched as the Cranick family’s home burned down because their fire-fighting services were available on a subscription basis only, and the family had not paid the $75 fee. Immediately, right-wing writers at the conservative movement’s bulkhead magazine, The National Review, and conservative radio host Glenn Beck defended the county and argued that firefighting should not be a public service available to all, regardless of ability to pay.
The Cranicks revealed in an interview with MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann that they lost four pets in the fire — three dogs and a cat. Now, the Human Society of the United States (HSUS) — the 11 million member-strong organization dedicated to animal welfare — has condemned the Obion County policy of only offering firefighting to rural residents through a subscription-based service. In their statement, the Humane Society writes that it’s “inexecusable that three dogs and a cat would have to die in such a horrible way, with firefighters ordered to not intervene, because of an unpaid $75 service fee“:
The Humane Society of the United States is issuing the following statement in response to the heartbreaking news that four animals died in an Obion County, Tenn., fire because the homeowner didn’t pay a service fee, and firefighters were told they could not extinguish the blaze:
“It is inexcusable that three dogs and a cat would have to die in such a horrible way, with firefighters ordered to not intervene, because of an unpaid $75 service fee. Putting out fires is a matter of life and death for people and animals, and South Fulton city officials should quickly reconsider their emergency response policies before others are put at risk,” said Leighann McCollum, Tennessee state director for The HSUS.
The Humane Society is not the only major national organization to condemn Obion County’s policy following ThinkProgress’s reporting. Earlier this week, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) — which “represents more than 298,000 full-time professional fire fighters and paramedics who protect 85 percent of the nation’s population” — called the firefighters who refused to help the Cranicks “incredibly irresponsible. … [Firefighters] shouldn’t be forced to check a list before running out the door to see which homeowners have paid up,” said a statement by the group.
As the Progress Report writes, “The story of Gene Cranick’s home illustrates the ascendancy of a compassion-less conservative philosophy that believes in the on-your-own society and has virtually abandoned the common-good creed that we are our brothers keepers. Only by rededicating ourselves to rebuilding an American Dream that works for all Americans can progressives repudiate this merciless philosophy.”
UPDATE Change.org is organizing a letter-writing campaign to tell “Obion County Sherrif Danny Jowers, the main contact person for Obion County Office of Emergency Management, that letting pets burn to death over $75 is unacceptable.” The animal welfare group The Philanthropy Team is demanding the resignation of Mayor David Crocker and Fire Chief David Wilds.