Save a Dog, Find Love

Krist Novoselic's column runs every Tuesday on the Daily Weekly.
Around 12 years ago, a handsome Dalmatian came out of the hills. The poor critter was a little beat-up and had a mangled front paw. We took him to the vet, and some of his toes had to be amputated. He still got around good, but at the time we couldn't take in another dog, so I went about looking for a home.

There was an artist named Darbury who took one look at the Dalmatian and said she'd have him. Salvador Doggie then became an urban dweller who spent his time between Seattle and San Francisco. I got to know Darbury, and after some life changes we started dating and eventually married. Salvador came back to my place, and I got to keep him after all!

Animal ownership should be a personally fulfilling experience. Unfortunately, for some people it's just another hassle. Why do people chain dogs up only to mostly ignore them? Probably because they got stuck with a stray, or that cute little puppy grew into a big dog. Whatever the reason, there's no excuse. King County wants to make it illegal to continuously chain up a dog. It's about preventing the neglect of animals, which is a form of abuse. I've seen dogs chained to some moldy little house with the ground worn bare in the radius of their tether. It's heartbreaking.

If people can't give a dog the attention it needs, they shouldn't have one. I think it's OK for local government to address animal-neglect issues like continuous chaining. People will likely not have the dog if they're faced with a fine. I just hope they don't dump the creature somewhere. Again, it's more about people than dogs--so we're likely going to still have problems!

All three of my big dogs are strays. I live way out in the country, and some people must think the area is a good place to dump dogs. Many of the wandering canines I've rescued over the years have turned out to be great pets. Last summer this beautiful golden retriever just showed up one day. I didn't want another dog, so I put up some "Found Dog" signs around, but I had the feeling no one would call--and no one did. This lucky dog is now a dear part of the family.

People who dump animals are not only jerks, they can endanger the dog and others. Last year, stray dogs broke into a nearby chicken coop. By the time the farmer got there and shot the dogs dead, they had killed about 80 laying hens.

I was once the victim of wandering dogs. I had left for the day, so I chained my dogs. Some wandering pit bulls came through and destroyed most of my chickens. I had a small hen that I'd grown fond of enough to name Little Goldy. It was sad to see my little hen among the other destroyed birds. I called the sheriff and we found out somebody had seen these dogs leave my place. We then heard about some cattle down the road that had had their snouts and ears torn by the same dogs.

The owner was busted for having dangerous dogs. In Washington, that means the dog needs to wear a bright orange collar, and must be tattooed or have a tracking chip injected into them. The owner needs to buy a bond for at least $250,000, payable to anyone harmed by the dog. And the owner needs to register the canine with the sheriff of the county they reside in. If the animal causes harm again, the owner could be guilty of a felony and the dog will be destroyed.

It turned out the owner was a breeder, and with all of the state obligations, his dogs were now worth less. And that goes to show you that it's about people. These pit bulls would have been fine animals with a good mix of love and attention. With this kind of approach, a chain for part of the day wouldn't have hurt a bit. It's not about the chain itself--it's the neglectful household the dog is tied to.

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