Thursday, August 2, 2007

Two Doors Down

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.



Snoskred said...

It might be worthwhile speaking to that neighbour and letting them know that they have your permission to come onto your property and tie your dog back up.

That might be why they didn't do it - they may not have felt comfortable going onto someone else's property. I would have felt a bit strange about it myself.

My ex-husband had a wire haired foxy that was an escape artist. The amount of times we came home and he'd got out by digging under a fence. Eventually we had to put a new fence in with concrete. That feeling of lost dog, of not being together is terrible. When you ring the pound and they say yes we have your dog you just want to get them back right away.

You're right that this was a terrible waste of time however when you compare it to other outcomes (dog run over, dog gone forever without you knowing where they are) I know which one I'd choose. ;)

I once had a cat that went missing for two weeks and was eventually found in the garden near the house, he'd been bitten by a snake and tried valiantly to make it home, he had grass seeds all through his fur from dragging himself along and in the end he nearly made it. I was heartbroken. I'd been searching everywhere and when I sat down to take a rest I'd sit on the front porch calling him home. I thought of nothing else until we found him.

What's a little time when your loved animal is alive and well? ;)


Two Write Hands said...

Sheesh. Is your neighbor a politician, by chance?

paisley said...

without fear of sounding simplistic... people are assholes... the same thing happened to me about 5 years ago.. i was living in an intercity residential area.. the neighbor 3 houses down drove my dogs to the dog shelter,,approximately 1/2 an hour away considering traffic time,, when the neighbor left without properly fastening the gate...don't walk 3 houses down and stick them back int he fence you see them behind ever day... you tell me and well both know.....

Lisa McGlaun said...

I had something very similar happen with my dog a few years ago when I lived in GA. She was a beagle mix and loved to find new and creative ways to roam the neighborhood...she ended up at the pound too, delivered by my lovely neighbor.

Sorry you had so much trouble.

Pastry Artist said...

Ooh ... I'm in Maryland and I would love to reach through the computer and give the neighbor, warden, vet assistant and the vet a good hard shake! What's wrong with people? Common sense and common courtesy, traits that used to be so everyday are almost non-existent anymore. Makes me want to toss all the knuckleheads into outer space.

"Sleeping Kitten - Dancing Dog!"