Dog owners owe their pets a little protection. 

A People Problem

Bad people must sleep well at night. I know good people sometimes don't. My first clue that something was wrong was when I drove up into my driveway to see Pochi, one of my dogs, inside the house and peeing on the window. Pochi usually gets insulted at the idea that he might not be housebroken. As I walked closer to the house, I saw red drops on the grass and steps. My next thought was that my wife had done a really bad job of painting the door. When I looked closer I realized the paint drops were actually blood, and they covered most of the front porch. Streaks of blood raked the sides of the door and the side windows. Blood splattered the siding of the house and the edge of my wife's car. My heart stopped beating, and I threw open the front door so hard it broke the doorknob. Our two dogs were running around the house peeing on everything. My wife stood in the middle of the kitchen, covered in blood. She had a bloody smear across her right cheek. I quickly realized she had no injuries, so my next thought was whether or not she had snapped and hacked the mailman to bits. Our house certainly looked like a crime scene. As the story unfolded, it turned out to be nothing at all so dramatic. It seems that a young black-and-white hunting dog attempted to adopt my wife while I was out. He had somehow cut his nose and one of his paws, probably as he was tossed out the back of a pickup truck, and he was squirting blood all over the place. So my wife managed to get the dog in her car and take him to the Brook Run Animal Clinic to get patched up. The clinic must have been quite shocked to see a small Japanese woman covered in blood and dragging a dog almost as big as she was. They cleaned the dog up and we came back later that day to take him home. Our noble plan was to house him until we could find the owner. Unfortunately "John", as my wife named him (she isn't very good at naming dogs), was an un-neutered male with the sort of howl that only a hound can generate. The first night he howled from 3a.m. to 6a.m., then made a general nuisance of himself in the neighborhood. The next night he repeated his performance, and at around 10 o'clock, we realized the arrangement wasn't going to work. Sure, John just wanted to come in and get a little noogie, but our two dogs had some serious opinions about that. So we called Henrico Animal Control. Every shelter we had called that day was full, no hospital would take him unless he was injured more than he was, and the only shelter that could take him said we had to wait until Monday to surrender him. But we weren't the only people to call Animal Control. Turns out several of our neighbors did as well, and the decision was out of our hands. I can still see John's trusting face as I sat with him waiting for Animal Control. He kept trying to lick me into submission and, even though he smelled like a monkey fart, I hugged him and scratched his head. I even helped him get into the Animal Control truck. He seemed to think I was going with him up until the officer drove away without me. As of this writing, he has six days to live. So here's my question. Is the irresponsible cretin who couldn't spare four dollars to buy his dog a tag with a phone number losing any sleep? Is the owner who may-or-may not have dumped his dog in a strange neighborhood having nightmares or pangs of guilt? Or are my wife and I the only ones who cried when John went to the pound and almost certain death? Would we have had a better weekend if we had just ignored a bleeding dog in our yard, or called Animal Control as soon as we saw the stray and let someone else deal with it? The problem isn't that no one else wanted to help. Everyone did, to some degree. But there are so many abandoned and abused dogs that there just aren't the resources available to take care of them all. By volume alone, some are going to die. And it certainly isn't the dog's fault. It's a people problem. Too many people get dogs on a whim, or don't bother to neuter their dogs, or otherwise behave irresponsibly when their cute puppy grows up and isn't as cute anymore. Dogs aren't tools or toys, and they don't go away because you toss them out the back of a truck. John became our problem, and the problem weighed heavy on us. It would have been easier if we had just looked the other way, but we didn't. It would have been easier if we just didn't care, but we did. So we lose sleep, we worry about John, and I cry in the shower when I think about helping John get into an Animal Control cage. And somewhere there's a piece of trash who's sleeping sound as a rock. I ask you, is this right? No. I don't like it, but I suppose it's the cost of my humanity. Maybe we'll save the next one. I hope John understands. Because I'm not sure I do. Christopher O'Kennon is a free-lance writer and Webmaster for the commonwealth of Virginia. Opinions expressed on the Back Page are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Style Weekly.

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