Tens years ago, the Mendocino Coast Humane Society in California sought my public relations agency’s help with fundraising. Sadly, the same day I toured the Society’s facilities and saw cages filled with strays waiting for adoption or death, I came across a homeless man in front of a supermarket. He was digging leftover food bits from a trash can, licking food bags, and swallowing the last sips of soda left in nearly empty cups.
The next day, in the shower, a disturbing thought came to me: the homeless man was a stray, just like the dogs at the Humane Society. He was scrounging for food and living on the street.
In The Human Strays, Veterinarian Jim Briggs, working out of a van and providing free care to the dogs of the homeless, often hears an ugly voice in his head he calls DIME (Devil In My Ear). DIME suggests Briggs could solve the homeless human stray problem in Portland, Oregon in no time: euthanize them the way veterinarians kill 1.6 million dogs each year in the U.S with a two-shot death cocktail. A scary thought that led to a damn good novel.
There’s more to it: Briggs’ father was a devotee of “doctor of death” Jack Kevorkian. Dr. Kevorkian went to jail for assisting people with their suicides. He declared that people have a right to choose when and where they want to die. Briggs Sr. belonged to a secret group that carried on Kevorkian’s work. And he took along 10-year-old Briggs are clandestine missions to relieve the pain of the terminally ill and grievously sick.