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Archive for July, 2009

Are you judicious about leashing your dog whenever you bring it outdoors? Or do you think your dog will never run away from you, and accidents only ever happen to someone else’s dog? Don’t wait until a life is lost before changing your complacent attitude.

It was a bright, sunny day, that unfortunate morning in the month of May. The day had barely begun and everyone in the office was in high spirits as usual. As we all went about our daily routine, a colleague burst in through the door and reported that a dog had just been knocked down by a bus.

We rushed to the window and craned our necks to catch a look at the dog—such is human nature—and what we saw was a lifeless body lying in the middle of the road while the oncoming traffic slowed down and drove around it. Harbouring a tiny sliver of hope that the dog might still be alive, I ran downstairs, wanting to, at the very least, move the dog to the side of the road and offer some comfort before help came. What I saw gripped my heart and rendered me paralysed. It was a Jack Russell Terrier, probably about three years old. It was lying in a crimson pool of thick body fluids, its guts spilling onto the road. An eyeball was missing. A little farther away, a torn collar lay quietly, with neither name nor contact number attached to it.

I shouted to my colleagues who were running towards me, and also to anyone who was nearby, “It’s someone’s dog! Where’s the owner?” A while later, a woman ran up to us. “Oh my god, “ she said in shock, a hand over her mouth. “Are you the owner?” we asked repeatedly, but she was unable to answer us for a long while. Finally, as if she had at last realised the gravity of the situation, she looked at us and said, “Why did it run away? The owner is going to kill me.”

I do not own a pet dog, but having friends who do and being in this line of work, I am well aware of the disposition of dogs in general, and especially that of the spirited JRT. No matter how well-trained or docile a dog is, you should try never leave it unattended, even for one minute. I have witnessed my own cat, an epitome of agility, lose its footing and almost slip from a window ledge. All it takes is a slight misjudgement, a little distraction, and an unfortunate accident can happen. We cannot blame the owner, who may have been busy and left his pet in the care of a friend. We cannot blame the friend who, while distracted in her chores, had forgotten that the dog was hanging around her, unleashed. And we cannot blame the bus driver, who would never have expected a dog to dash across the road towards him, while driving down a road so familiar to him.

At a recent pet event, I watched in horror as a large pedigree dog grabbed a Chihuahua with its front paws in a death grip, its sharp teeth dislodging the poor pup’s eyeball before it finally let go. It happened in a matter of seconds; did the usually docile dog think that the much smaller pup was a toy? Or had the Chihuahua, usually unaware of its size, provoked the Husky into action? No one knew, because both dog owners had let their guards down for a second and turned their attention to something else.

Could these accidents have been prevented? We all know in our hearts what the answer is. Yes, your dog may have never run away from you before. Yes, the trip to the shop may only take five minutes or less. And no, your dog does not have a single violent bone in him. And yet, how long did it take for the bus to take down the dog? The time it took to blink.

If you think walking your dog on a leash or muzzling him is restrictive, perhaps you may be missing the point here. For the many occasions your pet has given you unconditional attention and joy, the least you can do is to give him a life that is carefree and safe. We care for our pets as if they are our own children, and as a parent, we are responsible for their actions, as well as for their lives. If putting a leash on their collars or being extra vigilant as we let our dogs mingle can lower the chance of accidents, I think it is only fair that we do our part.

We owe this to our pets. And in the meantime, the sight of the fallen JRT and the excruciating screams of the Chihuahua are forever imprinted deeply in my mind.

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