I just wish Terri Schiavo was a dog.

Because then the Humane Society, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Animal Planet Channel would swoop in, work their magic and successfully save her from a cruel and unusual death by starvation and dehydration.

Despite an abundance of secular media reports to the contrary, 39-year-old Terri Schiavo in Pinellas Park, Fla., is not comatose. She’s not in a persistent vegetative state. Nor is she terminally ill.

Yes, she’s disabled due to a collapse 13 years ago, which resulted in oxygen deprivation to the brain. But she laughs, cries and responds to her family. In fact, she’s not on life support of any kind. Until this past Wednesday, no extraordinary measures had been taken to keep her alive at all. They were merely feeding her! Yes, through a tube. But it was just food. Last time I checked, a nutritionally sound meal hardly qualifies as extra-ordinary medical intervention.

Don’t be fooled. Getting one’s nutrition through a feeding tube is not as rare as you might think. A 1987 government report found that at least 848,100 people per year receive food by means of a tube in hospitals, nursing homes or their own homes.

Yet, tragically, Judge Greer, to his utter shame, sided with “guardian” Michael Schiavo and authorized the removal of her feeding tube this past Wednesday at 2 p.m. EST.

Bottom line: If it can happen to Terri Schiavo, it can happen to any of us.

Let’s look at this case in a fresh way. Imagine for a moment that Michael Schiavo is not Terri’s husband, but Terri’s owner.

Terri, the golden retriever, has been virtually ignored for 13 years now. Ever since she was hit by a car in that mysterious “accident,” Terri walks with an awkward limp, hesitant to put all her weight on her right front paw.

Michael keeps her tied to the oak tree in the backyard on a short chain leash, which cuts painfully into her flesh. Her coat is matted. Her spirit is broken. He’s been distracted for years with a cute black toy poodle that enjoys the comfort of the home while Terri languishes in the oppressive raw elements of nature outside.

And then comes the shocking development. Michael is tired of waiting for Terri just to die on her own. So he arbitrarily decides to stop feeding her. For that matter, no more water either. The next-door neighbor can’t help but notice that Mike’s retriever is a lot more listless than normal.

Enter the PETA people. They can stage an attention-getting publicity stunt faster than you can say “opportunists.”

After all, they were the ones who, on Oct. 8, fired off a letter to PETCO CEO Brian Devine, citing dozens of eyewitness accounts of sick and dying animals in 50 stores and 21 states during the month of September alone.

Let me quote directly from their press release: “PETA is fielding more complaints than ever about the cruel living and dying conditions for animals at Petco.”

Here’s the difference. PETCO is unintentionally harming the animals though neglect. Michael Schiavo, by contrast, is intentionally murdering his retriever by withholding food and water.

Can you imagine what PETA would do? They’d go ballistic! And rightly so.

Or what do you think might be the reaction to such a case by the real live cops who patrol the streets on the Animal Planet TV show called “Animal Precinct”? Look no further than the nearest TV Guide. They’ve got an upcoming episode on Oct. 22 entitled “Rescuing Rusty” in which “investigators find an emaciated chow chained to a backyard fence. After a trip to the vet, they vow to track down the man responsible for starving the dog.” Did you hear that? Track him down like the criminal he truly is.

If PETA and “Animal Precinct” weren’t enough to save poor Terri, the golden retriever, from the murderous hands of owner Michael, then surely Ed Asner would come to the rescue.

Best known for his role as the newsroom boss in the “Mary Tyler Moore Show,” Ed recently volunteered his time to film a public service announcement for the Humane Society. He promoted a free kit titled “Providing for Your Pet’s Future Without You” in the event that you should happen to die before your pet does. However, if, like Michael, you seek to have a future without your pet by cruelly dehydrating and starving it to death, Asner might just decide to sit on your chest. And you’ll be lucky if he doesn’t break a couple of ribs in the process.

Is anyone else troubled by the gut-wrenching hypocrisy of a culture that is more outraged by the suffering of a dog than the suffering of a 39-year-old woman?

Personally, I’d like to hire Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin to kick Michael Schiavo’s butt!

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