My neighbours had a large, white dog. It wasn’t a particularly friendly dog to strangers, but that wasn’t his fault.
In the years I’ve seen the events unfold in the neighbour’s yard, the dog was never taken for a walk. None of the children in the family ever played with it, tossed a ball, or threw a stick. The dog wanted to play, but his dog-like invitations were ignored. I never once saw any of the family even pet his shaggy, white head.
This dog was never given shelter in the house, no matter how cold the winter. He was fed and watered, then ignored, unless he barked. That was his purpose, to guard the house and yard, and warn of trespassers. So, if strangers came by, the dog snarled and barked.
A few weeks ago the dog disappeared. I was concerned and made inquiries. I found out that the dog was taken for a drive and ‘dropped off.’ He was dumped somewhere to survive as best he could — after years of loyalty to a human family who apparently did not value the dog or his companionship.
After a miserable, boring life, now this dog has been discarded like garbage. I am outraged. This dog could have been surrendered to the shelter, or put down humanely at the vet. Why abandon him to starve and die?
I searched for a solution, what could I do to help this dog? I investigated legal alternatives. Apparently there is no legislation in place to save this dog from abandonment.
There are no consequences to the owners unless I can prove that this dog suffered as a result of being abandoned. How can I prove anything if the dog cannot be found or if it is already dead from starvation, or wild animal attack?
The Alberta peace officers who investigate these situations are short staffed and overrun with similar or worse situations. How can they begin to save a grouchy, big, white dog with no idea where he was ‘set free?’
We all know this story has played out before, with hundreds of family pets, dogs, cats, etc., all meeting similar fates. Few people notice and even fewer people care. Such widespread and ignorant cruelty is hard to believe and yet it happens again and again. There are other solutions that don’t involve leaving an animal to suffer a lingering death. I just feel that someone has to speak out against it. To ignore it is to condone it.
In the end, as much as I wish I could, I can do nothing to help this old dog. I can, however, tell his story and say to those people: you should be ashamed! We should all be ashamed that this ever happens.
But to those people who are teaching their children that the loyalty and life of their dog is worth nothing, you should be ashamed!
Oh look, there is a new puppy at the neighbour’s house. In a few years, will I be again writing: “My neighbours had a dog …”?