Patricia Devereux: There’s a good reason to have animal control laws |

Patricia Devereux: There’s a good reason to have animal control laws

Patricia Devereux

When I read Dylan Rader’s opinion piece in the Sept. 23 edition about the shooting of his dog, it hit close to home ” but in the opposite way.

I keep my two cats on leashes in my rural home in order to protect them from coyotes. A neighbor from a quarter-mile away recently got two puppies, which he has neglected to properly fence.

Over about four months, I made at least five unreturned phone calls to the neighbor when I caught the dogs on my land, explaining that my leashed cats are “sitting ducks” if his dogs attacked. Finally, after two months (during which time three other sets of neighbors complained to me about the loose dogs), I began to make official complaints to Lyon County Animal Control.

The day I caught the dogs within my fence about 50 feet from a leashed cat, I hit the roof. But Animal Control told me that they were essentially powerless to remove the dogs.

At my behest, the dog owner was issued a citation to appear in court, charged with “dogs at large,” and that’s exactly the law Mr. Rader seeks to appeal: owning an animal that “chases, worries, injures, or kills livestock,” which, under the law, my cats are considered as.

My neighbor’s $400 fine was waived ” which was fine with me, for in the interim between the citation was issued and the court date, he had improved his fence for the dogs.

While my heart goes out to Mr. Rader’s family over the loss of their beloved pet, he needs to understand the other side of the story. If I had owned a gun on the day I caught the dogs within my fence, I would not have hesitated to shoot them, under the law he calls “antiquated.”

Mr. Rader, if your leashed Mawg was threatened in her own yard by two at-large Great Danes, would you not shoot those dogs?

It takes a split second for a dog to disembowel a leashed cat, even if the attacker is just “playing.” As for dog owners’ oft-voiced “My doggy wouldn’t hurt a flea!” defense, all dogs are unpredictable.

In Grass Valley, Calif., about 10 years ago, a hitherto-benign family dog suddenly chewed off the back of a toddler’s skull when the boy’s mother was in the back yard. That dog, too, like Mr. Rader’s Mawg, “wouldn’t hurt a flea,” right?

No, it is by no means “ridiculous that in this day and age a law that gives anyone the right to shoot someone’s pet simply claiming it was ‘worrying’ livestock still exists.” The reality is, a dog is only acting like a dog when it runs through an inadequate fence.

As I asked the Dayton Justice Court judge, “Do my cats have to die in order to force this man to properly fence his dogs?” The apparent answer is yes.

Patricia Devereux lives in Stagecoach