It was cold late Thursday afternoon as the woman and I walked along the edge of a farm-to-market road near the Rockett community.
The woman – who describes herself as “extremely frustrated” by the county commissioners’ decision not to address the issue of stray and abandoned animals – wanted to show me a direct result of their choice.
On our first attempt, we didn’t find the orange-and-tan colored chow-type dog that had been abandoned down the road from her home about two weeks ago.
The woman set out some food at the spot where she’s been feeding it – and we walked back to her car to talk.
“It’s been so sad to see this dog sitting there,” the woman said. “When I first saw her, she was just sitting there by the side of the road and watching the cars going by. She would be looking both directions with this hopeful look on her face as she watched the cars go by. As the days went by, though, you could see her starting to look less hopeful – as if she was beginning to realize they weren’t coming back.”
Since being dumped, the dog has pretty much stayed within a small area that’s bounded by the road to the front and a farmer’s open field to the rear. The woman said she believes the dog is taking shelter either in the tall dead weeds on the right of way or possibly under a nearby abandoned house.
The woman has tried to drive over every day to where the dog is to drop off some feed. The dog has been extremely timid and has shied away from the woman, who places the food on the ground before backing off so the dog will come up and eat. Because her act of humanitarianism of feeding a stray animal places her in possible violation of the county’s ordinance – I haven’t been able to get a clear answer on this issue from anyone – the Daily Light is not publishing her name.
Personally, I say to the commissioners, come and get me if I’m out doing the right thing for one of God’s littlest creatures.
As it was, on Thursday, the woman was back to put out food yet again.
As we went to leave, the woman saw the dog come out of hiding and approach the food – so we slowly drove by so I could take a photograph without scaring away the obviously shy dog.
“She won’t let me near her,” the woman said of what is a pretty-faced dog whose coat has become scruffier and increasingly full of burrs the more that time passes.
The woman said she’s aware of the commissioners’ stance on not picking up stray and abandoned animals – but questions their position in light of numerous residents’ requests (including a petition including more than 870 signatures) that the ordinance – which first went into effect in 1996 – be returned to its original wording.
If she could personally catch the Rockett dog, the woman has a friend who will take the animal in. But she can’t catch it by herself and with the ordinance as it is, she can’t ask the sheriff’s office to pick it up – because the woman can’t lie and say the dog is a nuisance.
It’s not on her property. It doesn’t sit in the middle of the road. It’s not in anybody’s trash. It’s not digging up a flower bed. It doesn’t bark, it doesn’t growl. It’s not rabid nor sick.
The woman talked with dispatchers, who she said were very kind and polite about the situation, but was told animal control couldn’t come out because there is no complaint that can be articulated under the new criteria set out in September by the commissioners.
“If the animal control officers were allowed to just help me catch it, I’ve got it a home waiting,” she said, noting she’d like to ask one of the officers to help her when he’s off-duty – but she’s fearful there would be repercussions because of the commissioners’ stance.
It’s a problem that’s only going to spread, she fears, noting one county employee has told her of other dogs abandoned on the side of the road that are now simply left to run around unless and until an articulated complaint meeting the commissioners’ criteria is filed.
And the Rockett dog?
It simply sits alone by the side of the road as it waits for something to happen that will change its forlorn circumstances.
Any ideas, anyone?
JoAnn Livingston is managing editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light. She can be reached by telephone at 972-938-1939 (office) or 214-403-5853 (cell) or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.