A few mornings ago, my husky mix, Shanti, broke her lead while I was at work and went for a run around my country neighborhood. When I returned home at 11:30 a.m. that morning and saw the broken lead (she has the sweep of the yard and several trees with 60’ of lead), I immediately rushed inside to see if anyone had called. Indeed, yes—a new neighbor who lived just two doors down.
“I have your dog,” she began, “A white dog? She was running all over the place. Anyway, I’ve got her tied up next to the barn, but I’m going out of town around noon, and I don’t want to leave her tied up, so I don’t know what to do if I don’t hear from you. I guess I’ll call the dog warden.”
I hurriedly called the number she left. “I’m sorry,” said the computer generated voice, “but this party isn’t accepting calls from private numbers.” I can never remember the code to fix that, so I just jumped in the car and rushed over there (about 600 feet).
No car. No dog. No answer at the door—although HER dog came rushing to bark at the door, and a cat snaked its way around the porch.
Back home, I called the dog pound, euphemistically called “Wanderer’s Rest,” 20 minutes away. They weren’t open—open at noon. I left a message. I waited, anxiously. I called back at noon. Busy. I called again. Busy. Around 12:30, I finally got a human, and poured into my story, looking for my dog.
“Yes, she’s here,” I heard—and then a flurry of questions to make sure she’s REALLY my dog. I answered the questions, explained again, and pointed out, “She’s wearing an ID tag with my name, address, and phone, a rabies tag with the vet’s name and number, and a tag identifying her chip number—she’s got an ID chip,” I add, just remembering.
“Well, we scanned her twice,” explained the voice, adding blithely, “Maybe we’re not doing it right.” Yeah. Maybe.
“We just need proof of her rabies vaccination, license, and a fee for her boarding.” Huh?
“OK, just call the vet (I had the number) and the town clerk and they can verify that.” Oh no. They needed documents. I protested.
“The vet can fax the certificate,” mandated the voice. “Fine,” I answered, “But I’m not sure about the town clerk—she’s only there a few hours each week.”
“Well,” came the reply, “We’ll hold Shanti here until you can get that.” I struggled to control my temper and got their fax number.
Fortunately, the town clerk DID have hours starting at 1:00 (although she was 15 minutes late that afternoon, and then had 15 minutes worth of trouble logging into her software for the dog licensing information).
The meeting at Wanderer’s Rest was terse. The woman at the desk pulled out my paperwork—complete with name, address, phone, all completed by the dog warden, noting “Time of seizure—9:15. Chasing livestock. Unlicensed. Violation of leash law.”
So much for noon. Chasing livestock? They have one horse, and it wasn’t there, presumably boarded while they’re out of town. She was licensed. She was also trailing 18’ of vinyl coated airline cable lead. Official lies.
But we live TWO DOORS DOWN. Why not simply take her back and tie her up? It’s obvious where she got loose via the broken cable, she has trees for shade, she has water—what’s the problem? I’ve certainly done this for neighbor’s dogs—and even for the one neighbor who refuses to control his dog, a chocolate lab, I just taught the dog myself to sit, stay, etc. I could have called the dog warden several times, but why punish the dog? What would that prove?
Shanti had a cream colored stain on her snout. “Oh, we give all new dogs worming medicine,” volunteered the shelter worker, noticing my examination. They had also removed her collar and had to go fetch it. She wasn’t the same dog for a day and a half.
So let’s review. Everyone knew where the dog lived. Everyone knew she had been loose unintentionally. Everyone knew who owned her. Everyone knew she had a current rabies vaccine (in New York State, rabies tags change shape and color every year). Yet, the dog warden drove to my neighbor’s house, drove 20 minutes to the shelter, filled out paperwork, drove back. The shelter workers “processed” her, including administering unnecessary medication (remember, they had my vet’s number on her tags, and anyone at the vet’s office could readily identify this dog). Then there’s the wasted time expected of my vet, the town clerk—not to mention the work time I lost.
All over a dog everyone knew lived 600 feet away.