I am an animal lover. I always have been. Throughout my entire childhood and adult life I've been blessed to have at least one dog and usually a cat as part of my family. Recently my family's 11-year-old golden retriever, Sasha, passed away. We still have a lively little two-year-old Maltese named Mopsie and an adventurous two-year-old cat named Puff, of whose recent escapades some readers will be familiar with, having read about them in my inaugural Miranda Writes column.
On top of being raised around dogs and cats, my parents and grandparents also gave me even more opportunities to cultivate an interest in animals by taking my brother, sister and I to zoos and museums and even, on several occasions, to places like Sea World and Marine Land. I was taught that animals, even though they can at times cause problems for humans and annoy them, should always be treated with respect and kindness, and never cruelly, whether by intent or negligence.
It's always stuck in my craw to see the way some people treat their pets. Whether it's a shivering dog left outside in -40 C weather on a frigid February night without adequate shelter, or a cat whose owners haven't bothered to get spayed who has litter after litter of kittens that can't find homes, I've always felt the injustice of the fact that animals can't stand up for themselves very strongly.
Despite my strong feelings for animal rights, I try not to be too hasty of a judge of others. That's why, when I was driving to my parents' residence on Riverside Drive late last winter and I had to crash into a snow bank to avoid hitting a cocker spaniel, doing damage to my car, I didn't take my frustration out on its owners.
It was very icy that day, and I was driving well under the speed limit. All of a sudden a sandy coloured cocker spaniel came dashing in front of my vehicle. I had no choice but to make contact with the snow bank, which was to my right. If I had hit the breaks and continued going forward, I would have skidded and hit the animal. The same thing would have happened if I had hit my brakes and turned right.
After the accident the owners rushed out, all apologetic, saying they didn't know how the dog got out, and promising they'd pay for the repairs on my Jeep Compass' bug deflector, which had just been installed the day before. I told them I was just relieved the dog was safe.
After I got my bug deflector fixed I attempted to contact the owner of the cocker spaniel to give them the receipt for the work that was done on my vehicle. I couldn't get a hold of them, so I eventually dropped it off in their mailbox and stapled it to my business card, which had all of my contact information on it. Weeks went by, and then months, and the owners never got back to me. I tried to visit them again but they were conveniently unable to come to their door when I approached, despite the fact that there were two vehicles in their driveway.
Eventually I dismissed the whole thing, still content that the damage had only been done to my car and not the dog. Then, while I was driving home to have lunch with my Dad on the afternoon of Aug. 6, I spotted the beautiful sandy-coloured cocker spaniel with gentle brown eyes again. Right in the middle of the road.
I parked my car on Riverside Drive and marched up to the dog owners' house, encouraging the dog to get off the road and follow me. What do you know? They weren't home. So, I called animal control. Not because I wanted this dog to be captured and taken away from its family, but because its owners, in my opinion, needed to be taught that it is unsafe for their dog to be left off-leash, especially when they're not home and the said dog has a habit of frolicking in the middle of the street.
City of Thompson Bylaw Number 1678-2003 states "no owner shall permit his dog or cat to run-at-large" and that "any dog or cat found running-at-large may be apprehended and impounded by an Animal Control Officer." This bylaw is easily accessible to read at www.thompson.ca.
I decided to call public works at the City of Thompson to talk to an animal control officer. Unfortunately, the officer was out sick that day. I don't blame him. The kind of negligence that, in my opinion, the owners of the cocker spaniel displayed makes me a bit sick to my stomach too.