2002.12.04 Free-range dog dilemma

Written by David Green.

If dogs run free, why can’t we?

                                - Bob Dylan


By DAN GREEN

Observer Editor Brother

Do you know where your dog is right now? I’m guessing that many Morenci citizens don’t.

I’ve been curious about Morenci dogs for a long time. I receive the Observer at my home in Seattle, and spend a good deal of time puzzling over the crime report. “Thursday, 10 a.m. Loose dog complaint.” “Saturday, 9 p.m. Loose dog complaint. Placed in kennel.” “Tuesday,  9 p.m., barking dog complaint.”

At first I wondered what all these dogs were complaining about. And I wondered if these dogs were “loose” in the moral sense, or just running around unleashed and griping about something. That’s just the way I think. Most readers would assume the true interpretation of these reports: a dog complaint means people complaining about dogs. I know that now.

But isn’t that just as curious? Why so many dog problems in Morenci? Sometimes a  full one-third of the Observer’s police report items involve dogs. When I came back to Morenci for Thanksgiving, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to investigate this myself. What was the real story behind the canine crime spree? To be honest, I thought the problem must be exaggerated.

I was wrong. Within two hours of my arrival here, the subject of a loose dog came up in a conversation with my  parents. There had been one in the back yard. On Thanksgiving day, my sister-in-law was taking a dog for a walk (on a leash) and got into an altercation with a loose dog. A different sister-in-law complained that she was afraid to go for a walk in certain parts of town because of some mean rottweilers. The next day I was at my brother’s house and happened to hear on his police radio a message about a dog being captured and taken to a kennel. It wasn’t a myth!

It seems to me there are three possible reasons for the preponderance of loose dogs. One possibility is that wild dogs who don’t belong to anyone are roaming the streets. They could be inter-breeding, living on garbage, and possibly evolving into a super-vicious Canis urbanis  species that will eventually terrorize and take over the town. This could lead to the end of the world as we know it.

Secondly, it could be that Morenci dogs are getting smarter than their owners. They are figuring out how to get over or under fences, how to slip out of their collars, and how to distract their owners long enough to make a sudden dash out an opened door. It happens to every dog owner once in a while, but here it could be happening all the time.

The last possibility is that some dog owners intentionally let their dogs out unattended. They open the gate and say, “Bye-bye,  Bowser, see you at dinner time.” Maybe these citizens think that their dog could never be a problem because Bowser is extraordinarily cute and well-behaved. Or maybe some citizens are the Michigan equivalent of hillbillies. “Git outta here, Bucky-dawg. Go catch yerself a rabbit!” 

It wouldn’t be right to simply complain about this without offering a solution. Here’s my idea. Any person who has his or her dog rounded up by the police more than once would be drafted to serve in the Loose Dog Patrol. The LDP could be called upon any time of the day or night to round up a wayward doggie. Meanwhile, the police could focus on safety and crime prevention. Morenci just needed an outsider like me to come in with a different perspective and a brilliant idea such as the LDP.

Meanwhile, the answer to Bob Dylan’s question at the start of this article is, “If dogs run free…” then we can’t, because we might get bitten—we might even get rabies.

    – Dec. 4, 2002 
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

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