I found a wandering dog and took him back to his home. The dog's guardian was incredulous as to how the dog got out, but a quick survey of the front yard told the story: the gap that ran along the entire length of the bottom of the fence had only required a little bit of digging for the large dog to fit through and escape.
Good Result? Maybe...
The man told me that he'd just moved in and didn't know all the ins and outs of his property. To me, that was a lame excuse: it didn't take especially keen eyesight to detect that that fence would not securely keep in a curious dog. You only had to look at that fence for two seconds to figure that out.
However, he blocked the hole the dog had made, and thanked me for bringing his dog back. Before I bid him goodbye, I gave him the details of Little Dog In A Big City.
...Or Maybe Not
The man sent me a text a few days later saying that he'd kept the back door opened while taking things to and from his truck, and his dog had run out and been hit by a car.
He texted me: “It was written in the stars for him to get hit by a car.”
I replied: "No, it wasn't written in the stars at all. It was written in fact that you left the door open while you were going back and forth from your truck."
Seriously, folks..."written in the stars"? The stars have nothing to do with it! If you leave open a door that leads to a road, your dog is likely to go onto that road. Why? Because dogs are dogs. They're curious, they're adventurous and, like young children, they don't really understand roads.
That's one of the reasons the law requires dogs to be securely kept on your property: for safety. Of course the law isn't trying to keep dogs safe - it's trying to protect people from being hurt if a dog runs onto the road and causes an accident. But, sad as it is that the law cares nothing for dogs, the reason for the law still stands: to prevent dogs from getting onto roads.
The message to take away from the story I recounted is to this: don't blame the stars or karma or god or the universe or any other mysterious force for a dog running out onto the road if you leave doors open. Be accountable. Because without taking responsibility for your actions, you'll never do better in the future.
As far as the man in this example goes, I wonder how many times his dog will suffer physical trauma because of his actions while he's busy pointing fingers? First it was the newness of the property to blame for the easily-identifiable gap under the entire length of the front fence. Then it was the stars to blame for him leaving a door open. I just hope my rather blunt reply to him was a wake up call - for his dog's sake.
Post Script: "These Things Happen"
After posting this Dog Blog on Facebook, someone commented that I was being too harsh, that "these things happen" - that doors and gates sometimes just get left opened.
My reply to that commenter was the following question: "Would you say 'these things happen' if it had been a child who'd run out into the street and been hit by a car?"
The commenter made all sorts of silly excuses as to why it's different when it's a child, but to me it's not different in the least: like a small child, a dog in our care relies on us to keep them safe in a world that they don't understand the dangers of.
To think that because dogs are less important because they're a different species is anthropocentric and speciesist. In my un-humble opinion, all beings - both human and non-human - are precious.
SAY NO TO PUPPY MILLS! SAY NO TO ANIMALS IN PETSHOPS! SAY NO TO BREEDERS!
Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance
It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.
Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.
Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.
Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.
Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.
If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.
All information and photos are copyright © Despina Rosales.