Friday, April 18, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Voters’ rights, immigration, gay marriage … and I’m stuck writing follow-ups

DebraDeAngeloW

Ooh, you people just frustrate me no end. The news this week is a columnist’s wet dream, and now I’m stuck writing a follow-up to last week’s column.

Jerks.

It’s my own fault, however. I had to go and look at the Enterprise website, didn’t I.

Reading commentary on the Enterprise website is nasty. It’s stinky. It’s discovering the Tupperware at the back of the fridge that’s been there so long, you don’t remember what’s inside. Do you clean it or just chuck that sucker right into the trash?

My kids don’t call me “La Cheapacabra” for nothing. I always look … first, just a crack … and … Oh Lord have mercy, mother of God, what the heck was that? Mashed potatoes? Pasta? Gravy? The stench hints that it’s fermented road kill, now host to entire colonies of creepy, fuzzy, pink, green and grey blobs of living ooze.

Ewwww. Just … ewwww!!!

Yeah.

Reading comments on the Enterprise website. It’s like that.

Why did I crack the lid? Because the Enterprise staff baited me. They posted my column about the 65-year lack of progress in Winters on dealing with loose dogs on their Facebook wall, and noted that the column generated some feedback — about 50-50 pro and con. This intrigued me, because my favorite quote about writing columns is: “If half the readers aren’t mad at you at any given point in time, you’re not doing your job.”

I think I deserve a bonus.

So, I held my nose and peeked. True, it was a pro/con split, but most of it had veered off topic and onto pit bulls. Of the “pro” commentary, I appreciated the posts from those who have suffered at a pit bull’s jaws, particularly those who noted pit bull fans’ sympathy for the breed — but not human victims.

On the “con” side, some declared me “ignorant.” Those some need to look in the mirror. And also visit www.dogsbite.org. Also www.fatalpitbullattacks.com, and see the faces and stories of more than 350 people killed by pit bulls and pit mixes. Know what? There’s no equivalent website for Chihuahuas, so knock it off with the “other breeds bite more frequently” nonsense. It just makes you look like an idiot.

Then there was the “hate speech” post. Just stop it. That term is reserved for people. Not dogs. Nice try on being inflammatory, but it’s a swing and a miss.

I admit it: I don’t like this breed. Having a pit bull is like having a pet lion. It may be loving and gentle, but it always has the capacity to attack. Maybe it never will. But if it does, someone could be killed, and that someone is usually a child.

Here in America, I have the right not to own a pit bull. I don’t want to own a time bomb on four legs with a mind of its own. Even if the bomb never goes off, I’m not comfortable with the potential. Here’s the rub: I can control whether or not I’m exposing myself to a pit bull, but I can’t control whether or not I’ll be exposed to one against my will. Why? Because irresponsible owners either A) can’t control their dogs or B) don’t have fences and gates solid enough to contain them or C) just let them run loose.

It’s the A, B and C that I’m concerned about. Not the animals themselves. You want to own a pit bull? Fine. Take responsibility for it, and keep it contained and controlled. And, yes, you should be required to carry extra liability insurance, just like pool owners. Pools are a lot like pit bulls. Ninety-nine percent of the time, they’re peaceful and lovely. And then there’s that one percent, when someone dives in and breaks his neck, or a toddler drowns. You carry liability insurance for potential risk. So it should be for owning a pit bull. The potential for carnage is always there. Don’t want to pay extra? Get a beagle.

The most ridiculous posts labeled me an animal hater. In what alternate universe does taking responsibility for pets constitute hatred? I view pet ownership as a responsibility second only to having children. Adopting a pet means agreeing to care for it for the rest of its life: feeding, grooming, getting veterinary care, having it spayed or neutered so it won’t breed uncontrollably, and dealing with A, B and C. It means controlling and containing that pet at all times.

A loose animal is an endangered animal. Besides harming people, it can be harmed itself (google “cat torture”), get lost (and sit shivering, hungry, frightened and pining for its owners), get hit by a car and injured or killed, die from heat or cold, or become infested with parasites that cause disease and discomfort. Containing an animal safely in the back yard (or indoors, for cats) at all times is the most loving thing a pet owner can do.

Sure, they can escape, like when the wind blows gates open. But a loving pet owner will make sure that pet wears a collar and license at all times, and also have the animal neutered so it can’t increase the staggering population of unwanted animals.

Me? A dog-hater? What a joke. I love dogs so much that I know it’d be irresponsible to have one. I work two jobs and go away frequently, and a dog’s heart gets broken when you go to the mailbox. Dogs aren’t like cats. Dogs need constant love and attention. And if they don’t get it? Say, they’re dumped in the back yard alone all day? They whimper. They howl. And they bark. And bark and bark and bark. If you don’t love your dog enough to spend time with it, don’t have a dog. It’s irresponsible. And, unloving.

Sadly, since we can’t make laws about who should and shouldn’t own pets, we’re left with creating — and enforcing — laws that protect the rest of us from the irresponsibility of others.

— Email Debra DeAngelo at debra@wintersexpress.com; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com

Debra DeAngelo

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