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December 9, 2010

Let me describe a few all-too-real situations where dogs needed protection, then I’m curious about your thoughts about how much you’d do, how much you’d risk (especially if it seemed like you were in danger).

Situation #1 – Dog Left Alone in Hot Car

Imagine you’re going about your work day on a HOT summer afternoon, and you realize there is a dog alone inside a black car. The windows are rolled up tight, with no owner anywhere in sight.

As you try to figure out your best course of action, the owners return to the car — screaming at you to get the @#$#@ away from the car/dog.

Situation #2 – Driver Swerves at Loose Dog on the Road

Imagine again, you’re going to work one morning, and you see a neighbor’s dog out loose on the road. As you prepare to pull over and round up the wayward pup (that you know), you realize the the car ahead of you (that just pulled out of a driveway in your neighborhood) deliberately swerves at the dog — not just once but several times.

You honk. You yell. You offer a few choice gestures.

Once the dog is safely back in her yard, you drive on … except the other driver pulls over to let you by then drives erratically in a road-rage kind of way for several miles.

So, you pull over somewhere safe to see if there is just generalized anger or real intent involved.

The other driver pulls over too.

Situation #3 – “Stray” Dogs

Imagine you live in a fairly rural community with numerous large predators. You notice over the course of not just one day, but several days, that there are 1-3 dogs just sort of hanging around. Would you:

  • A) Round them up and keep them warm/fed/safe until you can figure out where they belong.
  • B) Send out a neighborhood email, with few distinguishing characteristics listed, wondering if anyone knows where they live, but just let the dogs continue to run loose.
  • C) Catch them, if you can, and give them away without any attempt to locate their owners.

My Answers

I would do a LOT to protect dogs I thought were in danger. A LOT, but it seems like (lately) there is more human anger/aggression involved, if you try to protect dogs in the face of what I consider “bad” human behavior.

Tell me about the times you’ve stepped up to help/protect dogs. Did you ever feel like you were in danger yourself?

About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

  1. #3 rings a lot of bells for me. I have a series of escalating things that I do. I start by rounding up the dog(s) and bringing them into my house to keep them safe. Then, I call the owners. If they just blow me off (people do actually tell me to “just let their dog loose”), then I take the dog to the pound. Otherwise, the dog goes home safe and sound when the owners pick him/her up.

    The problem comes when it’s repeated over and over and over. Then, we eventually take the dog to the pound without calling the owners. We keep tabs to make sure that the dog is OK – we always take this step with knowledge that we have responsibility for that dog and may even end up adopting him/her if needed.

    But, we also know that if the owner discovers that we took their dog to the pound, things could get ugly.

    I hate this rural problem… I’ve found the dismembered bodies of three different dogs who were killed by lions in the forest behind our house. Yet, so many owners believe that it can’t possibly happen to them.

  2. I have collected strays when possible and returned them to their owners. Other times I’ve called our animal shelter. We have a wonderful shelter here so I feel safe calling them and trust the animals get superb care.

  3. Recently, a friend of mine tried to keep a bunch of kids from getting to close to a dog (the dog had escaped from his yard into a HS football game crowd and felt trapped by all of the kids trying to pet him). The dog ended up biting my friend as he tried to pull him away from the crowd. He spent the night in the ER with a hefty co-pay. But, I probably would have done the same.

  4. I have to tell you – whenever I see a dog or animal in need, my first thought now is: What would Roxanne do?

    A friend was just telling me how they rescued a dog who’d been hit in the road, took it to the vet and then found the owners, who were ticked that she’d had the vet give the dog a painkiller — because it cost $12! I mean, really. My friend said she would have had no problem paying for it if she’d known the dog’s owners were going to be so angry about it (the vet called her later and let her know what happened).

    And then my heart breaks for the dog, because who knows what sort of home they have…

  5. I have enlisted a store owner’s help in getting someone to get their dog out of a hot car — it didn’t hurt that he was a big guy who loved dogs — and I would call authorities but I don’t know how confrontational I would be to an owner unless that person was female. I’m a wuss.

    I somehow see stray dogs when my own dog is in the car so there’s no way I’m going to introduce a strange dog into that enclosed space, but I’ve got to admit that this may be a rationalization; I don’t know that I would put a strange dog in my car under other circumstances.

    Crazy person trying to hit a dog deliberately. No way I’d go near that wacko!

  6. I worry so much when I see a stray dog or a dog that is in danger somehow. Several times I’ve taken them home and then called the humane society, since that is where owners look for the dogs. But I am wary of stray dogs because I don’t want to get bitten. People leave their children in hot cars (by mistake of course) and their dogs too. It’s so so dangerous.

  7. I feel about dogs the way I feel about people – that they should be treated right and humanely. Maybe even more so, since they cannot speak up for themselves.

  8. Oh, my. I also am wondering if any of these situations actually happened to you? But this is a very informative post because I can see any or all of them are situations that are bound to happen.

  9. well, I had the first hot day black Mercedes car scenario the other day… I wrote about it on my blog. I told Petco, Rite Aid, passers by, and was ready to grab a cell phone when the owner showed up and was driving away, I asked for him to roll down his window, he was haughty rude and I told him that his dog needs air and could have died, he thanked me gruffly clearly not happy. I took his license plate but was not sure who to report him to.

    Also, the neighbors were tying up their 10 lb. mini poodle to a brick in the yard and keeping her tied up 24/7, I talked to them a bit, now she is in the back yard no longer tied to a brick but still out there too much… I called SPCA but they never called back. Am frustrated because other dogs in the hood are running around in the streets (3 little dogs) and this one is tied up, bad situations, who to call? don’t really want the dogs to end up in the pound but am concerned for all of them.

  10. Oh my. Did all that happen to you?? We had a situation just a couple weeks ago. From our backyard, we can see a set of 3-story apartment buildings. On the 3rd floor, a man had tied a husky puppy to the banister of his balcony. The leash was tied so tightly the dog couldn’t lie down, and the pup kept jumping up on the railing, biting at his leash and barking his little head off. We watched for a while, waiting to see if he would take the dog in, but he didn’t. I had visions of all the terrible things that could happen as that poor pup jumped against the railing. So I called animal control and explained the situation. Bless their fast-response hearts, an officer showed up in our backyard within an hour, watched the pup for a little, then went over to talk to the guy. The dog was brought inside, thankfully, but I was a little worried the entire time that the guy would notice us or the officer or his truck and know who turned him in…

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