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The death of Spencer's "town dog"

By Scott Tibbs, July 30, 2008

It started out as a heartwarming story. Buddy (a Catahoula herding dog) appeared in Spencer after the floods in June. Residents of a neighborhood had him collared and neutered, and got him vaccinated. But the animal shelter was full, and no one decided to take him in. Earlier this month, he was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy after he bit a woman who tried to restrain him when he "got into a goat pen and began chasing and nipping at one of the goats." My guess is that Buddy was following his instincts and was trying to "herd" the goats.

But what amazes me is that everyone seems to be shocked that Buddy is dead. It is as if people assumed a herding dog could be a stray forever, live on hamburgers from McDonald's (not exactly a healthy diet for the dog, by the way) and just be the town mascot. This leads to an obvious question.


You simply cannot have a stray dog running around fending for itself. Without a human owner (or guardian), it is likely the dog will eventually get into trouble. The dog may get attacked by a wild animal, or it could get hit by an automobile. The dog could eventually become a nuisance or even dangerous. Allowing the dog to run free as a town mascot was basically asking for something to happen. Eventually, something did.

The fact of the matter is that the dog bit a woman. When a dog exhibits violent behavior toward a human being, measures need to be taken to protect human safety. This is especially important when it comes to protecting children. Now, did Buddy need to be destroyed? Did the sheriff's deputy overreact? I have no problem with a full investigation of the matter to determine if the deputy's actions were proper and what (if any) disciplinary measures are appropriate in this case. My problem is that this has become a case where emotion has overtaken reason.

That emotion has overtaken reason was demonstrated by the idiotic comment by Lova Standeford of the Owen County Humane Society. In response to concerns that Buddy had bitten a woman, Standeford said "If the skin was not broken, then she was not bitten."

Lova Standeford is a fool.

To argue that skin must be broken in order for there to be a bite is mind-numbingly stupid. Merriam-Webster defies bite as "to seize especially with teeth or jaws so as to enter, grip, or wound." A bite does not require broken skin, and that is absolute truth. That a bite does not require broken skin remains absolute truth whether fools like Standeford want to believe it or not. This goes for anyone else in the Humane Society.

Folks, it doesn't have to be one or the other. The dog engaged in undesirable (and potentially dangerous) behavior that required action and there are legitimate concerns about whether killing the dog was appropriate. But the primary lesson here is the one that will be forgotten or ignored: if people were truly concerned about Buddy's welfare, they would not have allowed him to be a stray in the first place.