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Journalist's Dilemma Flags a Badly Broken System
Amarillo Globe News - Amarillo, Texas - Written by David Horsley - November 29, 2004
The other night a stray dog somehow got into my back yard. I first realized we had a visitor when the sound of unfamiliar barking started coming from out back. I could tell it wasn't our Jeff, whose bark I've grown accustomed to.
Sometimes the neighbor's little dog digs under the fence and comes to play with Jeff. This isn't a problem; in fact, Jeff loves the company. There's nothing Jeff would rather do than play, so an additional dog in the yard isn't a problem for him.
However, the barking I heard that night didn't sound like the neighbor's dog. I stepped outside, and the visitor ran to greet me. It was a pit bulldog.
People who own pit bulls tell me that the breed gets a bad rap. The dog books agree: Pit bulls are no more dangerous than any other breed - it's the way they're trained that makes them killers or gentle pets.
But I have to admit that pit bulls make me a little nervous. I once had a dog that was thoroughly whipped by a pit bull half his size. That bulldog was a meek pet one minute and a deranged fighter the instant he saw my dog. Unpredictable, yes.
Another time I saw two pit bulls running loose in my neighborhood, killing cats right and left before the dogs' owner could corral them.
I've heard that people who train pit bulls for fighting will sometimes use cats to reinforce the killer instinct in the dogs. It's a cruel thought, and I hope it's a myth, but still - one of my cats was outside that night, and I didn't want to take any chances.
The pit bull in my yard didn't seem vicious. It followed me out through the gate, which I locked securely.
"Go away, dog," I told it before going back in the house. I thought the story would end there.
Five minutes later, the barking returned. The bulldog had found its way in. A flashlight perimeter inspection revealed nothing unusual - no open gates or holes in the fence. Was this dog a climber?
It was wearing no collar or tags. Other than a bad habit of jumping up and planting its muddy paws on my stomach, it didn't have anything wrong with it that I could see. But I didn't want it in my yard, thank you very much. I led it into the alley through a different gate. Maybe it would get distracted by alley smells and go away.
No such luck. Soon it was back in my yard. This was getting weird.
Obviously, this bulldog had gotten loose from somewhere (it wasn't hard to imagine how), and the best place for lost dogs to be reunited with their owners is the city's animal shelter. I've located my own dog there several times.
But it was after 10 p.m., too late to call the animal control people. I thought about calling the police, but what could the police do? I put the dog out of the yard for a third time and went inside to ponder the situation.
This dog was a talker. If we let it stay in the yard with Jeff, it might keep us up all night. Anyone whose sleep has been disturbed by a barking dog will tell you that there's no ignoring the sound. It gets inside your head and makes you a little crazy.
I suppose I could have tried to slip a rope around its neck and lock it in the garage until the next day. But what if this dog was psycho, and the sight of a rope or leash triggered a biting response? The thought of a trip to the emergency room with a dog fastened to my hand didn't appeal to me.
I'm not especially proud of how I solved the problem. In my defense, the hour was late, I wanted to go to bed, and my options seemed limited.
I got a hot dog from the refrigerator and broke it to pieces. I went outside and gave the bulldog a piece, which it gulped down greedily.
Then I got in my car, rolled down the window, and waited for the bulldog to come for another piece of hot dog. When it did, I started the car and slowly drove out the driveway with the dog trotting alongside.
There was no traffic. I crept along the empty street, tossing out pieces of hot dog, until I had gone a couple blocks. Then I flung the last piece and raced away while the bulldog was busy looking for it. When I circled back to the house, there was no sign of the stray.
Critics, no doubt, will find plenty to criticize in my solution to the problem.
Written by Craig
Spanish translation - Traducción al español
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