Thursday, November 18, 2004

Havre Boucher, NS: Gone to the Dogs?

Checking in after another typical day of nothing here in the 'ol HB! So I was walking around the loop here in the village (from my house it's highway 4, then down close to where the wharf is, then through the newer "subdivision" that popped up in the late 70's, until finally climbing the church hill, meeting Route 4 again), down by the trailer park, when I catch a glimpse of a roaming dog. Without a leash. That saw me and started barking in a not so friendly manner.

Now normally, this won't be troubling for some people, especially those with well-trained, well-behaved pets. However, I happened to be passing by the house of an old high school classmate, and a few weeks ago, my mother told me a story that their dog, a pit bull, escaped its run and a woman down on the train tracks encountered it. It didn't attack, but the fact that it (or any breed of dog really) could have made it a serious issue.

Plotting my potential escape route, I glanced behind me nervously, waiting for the dog to come out of the trailer park to defend its territory. Luckily, it was content enough to see me back down from a breach I never planned to attempt.

This wasn't my first run-in with leashless dogs in the community. About two months ago, I was walking along a dirt road in Cape Jack, minding my own business. Nearing the end of the road on the West Havre Boucher side, a dog barked. I looked up at the hill from where the sound came from, and I was treated to quite a terrfiying sight. Not one, but four dogs started making their way towards me, and it wasn't for free Beggin' Strips or a belly rub. They were coming to whip my sorry ass for even looking at them the wrong way. I was in deep trouble!

Luckily for me, I did exactly what hikers do when faced with an irate Momma bear: I backed away slowly, and prayed to God that I wouldn't be torn to ribbons by this crew of rabies-infested canines. Soon enough, they stopped their advance, but they held their steely gaze. "We OWN this town, and don't you forget it!" seemed to be what they were saying, incapable of human speech.

What this story illustrates is that there is a dire need for my county, and all other jurisdictions like mine, to have dog run/line bylaws for outdoor dogs. I know this is the country, and the folks here may not like government interference in their lives, as it happens in the cities. In this matter though, we cannot wait for this tragedy to unfold and shatter/take away the life of an innocent human being.

While Ontario's outright ban on pit bulls is an extreme of Big Brotherism that make the libertarian in me uneasy, we cannot sit around and do nothing, fearful of rightful government action. We should pursue and enforce legislation that detains outdoor dogs from roaming the wilds in their rural communities. This greatly reduces their chances of becoming rabid (from being bitten or scratched by a racoon/skunk), and prevents dogs with defensive tendencies from confronting people/other dogs on the streets. On top of this, more severe penalties for irreponsible owners will serve as the deterent arm of this solution, as those who would encourage aggression in their animals/abuse them, or neglect their "companions" do not deserve the privlege of owning a pet, or some cases, even freedom in this society.


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