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.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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