By Bo Chaumers
I like dogs. Old dogs, young dogs, red dogs, yellow dogs, tired dogs, scrappy dogs, bored dogs, silly dogs. But I hate assaultive behavior in a dog; I won’t tolerate it (sorry Larry McMurtry).
I would much prefer to give a dog a treat, or a pat on the head, than to pick up a rock or a stick, but some dogs need to be taught a lesson if their owners won’t train them.
Over several months, I had watched a pack of around six dogs at a house below our apartment as they killed two young dogs for the crime of being born next door, in their territory. I watched them threaten and intimidate numerous people walking down the dirt road behind their house. I watched them surround and assault a tethered calf, attacking and biting its legs, traumatizing the poor baby, and only desisting when a neighbor intervened. Worst of all, the dogs’ owner was often standing nearby, watching these events and doing nothing.
One day I had had enough. I was going to take some wind out of their sails. I stuck my can of pepper spray in my right vest pocket, like a Glock in a holster, and marched around the block to their road. As I approached “their territory” four dogs came after me from two sides, growling and baring teeth. I was moved by some sort of silliness to put into verse what happened next:
I drew my weapon as quick as a flash.The dogs took off in a cowardly dash. They scattered like rats, but I was fast – I got three of them as they ran past.
The owner and his friend were standing nearby, watching impassively as the dogs flew by.
I looked back and I saw it was good. Three dogs pawed their faces as best they could.
The fourth dog sat back on the side of the road, having shifted demeanor to a pacifist mode. I looked at him and he at me. He was clearly wiser than the other three.I walked on past and let him be.
Mission accomplished, I walked on down the dirt road, meaning to quietly circle back to my apartment. But it wasn’t to be so easy. A bit farther on a burly sort of Rottweiler mix lay in the middle of the road. Like the others, he apparently thought it was his road. As I approached, he started growling and snarling and walking toward me. His owner was in his driveway washing a car and paying no mind to the incivility of his dog.
Again, I pulled out my weapon and drew a bead on the cocky canine. He obviously had seen this before. He ran and hid behind his owner, but not before I put a stripe across his flank.(The pepper spray contains an orange dye so that offending entities can be identified.)
The owner demanded in Spanish, “What did you do to my dog?” I did my best to explain in kind that “Él me atacó,” and that the spray wouldn’t hurt him. He relaxed and went back to his washing, and I walked on unmolested.
Let it be said of Bo Chaumers that he never harmed a dog that didn’t need harming. I love dogs but this day needed to happen. I only regret that I didn’t follow up as often as necessary to cause these dogs – or their owner – to change their behavior.
Owners need to be aware of the impact of their untethered dogs and take responsibility for training and/or restraining them. If they don’t, the public has a right to defend itself.
Jeanne’s Periodico on January 12, 2017 reports:
“City workers are going door to door to educate people on how to treat their pets. Owners can be sanctioned if their pets do not have ID, are running around in the streets without the owners, or are not vaccinated. To report mistreatment of animals, go to the offices of the Unidad de Gestión Animal (Presidente Borrero 7-61 y Presidente Córdova). Give them your contact info and ID, and details of the mistreatment (who, what, when, where). A sketch, photo or video should be attached as evidence, which will be presented to the infractor. You can also call 4134-900, ext. 1650.”
This sounds like a move in the right direction but I’ll believe the “sanctioning of owners” when I see it.
Bo Chaumers was a sheep rancher and federal conservation officer in Montana before moving to Cuenca with his wife, Alice.