Two Wrongs Lead to Confusion on Rights
This week the LaCrosse Tribune reported a story of dog ownership – and respect for life - that went terribly wrong. Unfortunately the guilty parties will likely come out of it with everything but their dignity intact while the victim – an innocent dog – paid the ultimate price.
The attorney who is representing the La Crescent, Minnesota couple who admit they poisoned a neighbor’s dog is arguing that their right to do so is protected under the 14th Amendment.
If the law allows farmers to kill dogs that threaten their livestock, does that right apply to city dwellers when a dog poops on their lawn and barks at their kids?
That’s the argument posed by the attorney for a La Crescent couple charged with poisoning their next-door neighbors’ pet.
Tim Guth has asked a judge to dismiss animal cruelty charges against Scott and Tammy Bailey on the grounds their prosecution violates the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. Because Minnesota law allows people to kill dogs to protect livestock, Guth contends the Baileys should not be held liable for killing a dog that defecated in their yard, growled at them and ate their food.
I can, to some degree, understand the Bailey’s frustration. When we lived in rural Wisconsin my neighbors’ free range dogs peed in my garage, crapped in my garden, attacked my puppy, whined incessantly at my door when my girl was in heat and snapped and lunged at me – all while I was in the “safety” of my own yard. Calling and showing up on at my neighbors’ (as in more than one neighbor) doorsteps to complain got me little more than confused blank looks and sincere assurances that “He’s never been a problem before.”
Speaking of blank looks:
The Blanks and a police officer answered questions from attorneys Wednesday at a hearing in Houston County District Court.
Both Blanks denied hearing complaints about Sadie.
Emma Blank, who works with special needs children at La Crescent Elementary, told of how Sadie was gentle with children and would come across the alley to play with students at recess.
Judge James Fabian asked how the dog was able to come when called.
Blank replied Sadie was free to roam but was trained to stay on the family’s deck. (bold mine)
Right, and I’m Queen of freakin’ England.
Newsflash – the only dog that is going to stay on a deck, by itself, all day long, when the only people around are the really interesting distractions that exist only in the world off the deck – is either a very ill dog or – maybe – one that is contained by an invisible fence. A healthy, happy, normal dog has far better things to do than lounge around by himself on a deck all day. Especially when the neighbors are serving steak.
As maddeningly annoying as it may be, the Blank’s brazenly irresponsible management of their dog in no way excuses the Bailey’s conduct. Shooting a dog in the act of worrying livestock or attacking a pet or person is an act committed in the immediate defense of person or living property. And - it’s a duty that no good farmer looks forward to. Poisoning a dog because his owners let him run loose to steal your steaks and crap all over your yard is not an act of self defense – it’s just cold, pointless, premeditated cowardice.
Last time I checked acts of cowardice were not among those protected by our Constitution.
When I was faced with a deluge of obnoxious canine invaders owned by irresponsible dolts I didn’t load my gun or serve antifreeze appetizers. I’m not capable of shooting or poisoning innocent dogs and I wasn’t prepared for the kind of range war that would break out if I persisted in complaining or, worse yet, started calling the sheriff (we had no animal control) every time an infraction occurred. After considering our options husband and I elected to suck it up and build a fence – ’cause you see – two wrongs really don’t make a right.