Posted: Wednesday, February 18, 2009 8:01 pm
By: By Lisa Smartt
I’d like to thank Kim Oliver Hawks and Anne Oliver of Red Fern Animal Shelter and Diane Webster, a volunteer at Ann’s Place (Ken-Tenn Humane Society), for the idea for this column. Though they didn’t win the contest, their enthusiasm won my heart.
Dog droppings. Has your neighbor’s dog ever left a little “present” in your front yard? I heard about one man who put the “present” in a bag and deposited it on the dog owner’s front porch or in his mailbox. I don’t encourage this kind of harsh vigilante justice when it comes to dog poo. In my book, dog poo should not be trifled with. When a grown-up man or woman sneaks out the front door in the dark of night to “harvest” a bag of dog poo and then stealthily deposits the poo in a neighbor’s mailbox, that man or woman should stop and re-evaluate their life goals. While that kind of “dog dropping” can be aggravating, there’s another kind of “dog dropping” which presents a much larger problem.
My family is blessed to live in the country. Beautiful woods. A winding road. A place of solace. Only one little problem. Our country place tends to attract “dog droppings” which sometimes weigh in excess of 40 pounds. Dogs and cats are driven down our beautiful road and just dumped. Yes, dumped. Being raised by responsible law-abiding citizens, I have no category for this behavior. A local resident once said, “Well, people can’t take care of ’em and they don’t know what else to do.” Sorry. I don’t buy it.
That’s like someone saying, “I threw the bag of trash out my car window because I wasn’t sure what else to do with it.” Yeah you were. You were supposed to put it in a trash can. You were supposed to leave it in your car until you could get to a trash can and then you were supposed to deposit the trash into the trash can. Why should another person be picking up your trash? It makes no sense. More importantly, why should another person be forced to care for your animals? Personal responsibility is not rocket science. Maybe it’s more than rocket science. It’s about character.
Organizations in our area have selflessly sought to help with the problem of animal over-population. Volunteers work diligently to do what they can to insure the safety of strays and abused animals. But these shelters are often crowded and the organizations are under-funded. They need citizen participation and monetary support. If you’re interested in this type of volunteerism or you would like to help with monetary donations, contact a shelter today. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Today is the day to call.
I’ll be perfectly honest. I’ve never been much of an “animal person” myself. I don’t melt at the sight of every puppy. I don’t coo over every little kitten. When it comes to relationships, I much prefer human beings. Despite that fact, I’m committed to doing what I can to help with this problem which is mostly about human irresponsibility. To quote Bob Barker, “Have your pet spayed or neutered.” Really. Just do it. By the way, if you were planning on driving by our house in the middle of the night to do a little “dog dropping,” be warned. We have ways of finding you. And don’t open your mailbox.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 2.18.09
Lisa Smartt, The Smartt View