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If you can't be accountable, don't get a pet

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By The Staff

I remember a cold winter day when as a teenager my mother sent me to the store to get a few packages. On the way, I passed a house that I had passed hundreds of times, but on this particular day, one of the woman's dogs bit me on the leg. I saw the dog from a distance and the animal seemed to be sunning himself in the yard. It didn't bother me because I was on the sidewalk. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the dog attacked me and bit my right leg.

When the police arrived the woman said the dog didn't belong to her and she denied feeding the animal. But her neighbors, who were sitting on their porch, told the police that they dog belonged to her although it wore no collar or animal identification tag. The woman never admitted that the animal was hers or that she fed the mutt. I guess she thought she might have to pay my doctor bill, which turned out to be about $15.

That's why I was so happy that the city of Quincy has decided to enforce the laws that are already on the books when it comes to stray animals, mostly dogs and cats, and nuisance animals that owners allow to roam freely. Some pet owners, when they get home, open their gates and let the animals go out for a few hours.

I had dogs at one point in my life and I enjoyed them. But I kept them inside and took them out only on a leash when I had to walk them. If I wanted my pets to run free, we went in a rural area where no people were around.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard a dog owner say, "Don't worry, my dog won't bite," I would have thousands of dollars. That's because animal owners think that their pets love others the way they love their owners. Pets are funny like that; they love anyone who feeds them and sometimes they turn on those who feed them. They are animals, not people, contrary to what some think.

People have to be held responsible for their pets. I favor implanting chips under the skin so that owners, whether they get tired of them or not, can be tracked down. And if their animal bites or attacks, someone saying, "That's not my dog," will no longer wash.

A few years back about five dogs invaded my block. One of the animals took up residence under my deck and anytime I passed by he growled as if he would spring out at any time. I was, to say the least, afraid to go out into my own yard. No one knew who the animal belonged to but one thing is for sure, I wasn't feeding or encouraging this squatter.

I asked all of my neighbors and no one knew anything about the animals. I called animal control and the officer said he was glad I called because it was only a matter of time before the animal would have attacked someone. He had a hard time and a tough fight on his hands while putting him in the truck.

Many people walk past my house daily, including young children walking to and from school. If something happened to one of those children or anyone else walking in front of my house and I failed to call authorities, I would never have forgiven myself. People who don't have pets have an obligation to report stray and nuisance animals.

If the owners are not responsible enough to adhere to the laws regarding pets, they don't need to be pet owners.