Columns

2002.12.04 Free-range dog dilemma

on . Posted in By The Way

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 

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