Monday, March 07, 2005

Dog Day Afternoons Nearly Gone

Up until recently our neighborhood has had a real dog problem. We had two or three packs of strays; by my count around eight or nine total dogs roaming a six-block area. And it was not always the dogs that were the problem. We had masters in the area who refused the idea of a leash law or the principle of keeping one’s hounds in bounds.

Oh, it was cute to see them romp and play with each other at times. But we had dogs raiding trashcans and chasing children. The mutts sewed piles of doggie doo everywhere. I saw one small dog, not much bigger than a chihuahua, pulling a trash bag twice his size down an alley. One day I walked out on my porch to find five or six male dogs hot on the tail of a female in season through my yard under cars and down the street.

When I took my toddler out for her stroll, I usually carried a can of pepper spray, because I was never too sure but that I might run into a mean dog along the way. High numbers of strays increased the odds that I might run into an ornery alpha male.

After some failed attempts to enlist the help of Metro’s Animal Control through their phone operators, I wrote a lengthy e-mail to the only person I could find on the website who seemed to oversee the program, Dr. Stephanie Bailey. And, boy howdy, did she have oversight. Dr. Bailey is Metro’s Director of Health. Needless to say and thanks to Dr. Bailey, we did get a response from Animal Control along with promises to improve their service.

With few exceptions, their service has improved. At least six strays that I know of have been captured. Owners who once let their dogs roam the neighborhood now contain them or have given them away to better homes. Obviously diseased strays—including one mangy adult dog slowly choked to death by a puppy-sized collar put on him long ago—have been humanely treated.

I rarely see a stray in our neighborhood now. Every dog I see is either contained or leashed. The dog days of summer will be here soon, but here's hoping the strays are gone for good.

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