08 October 2007

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

It's still hot in North Texas. Today, while running in 84º heat (and excessive humidity), I noticed a dog lying on a slab of concrete in someone's back yard. It looked as though the dog was lying in the shadow of a basketball backboard. When I got done with my 3.1-mile run, I was drenched in sweat. I walked a quarter of a mile to the house to inspect. Sure enough, there was a black dog (a pit bull) lying in the three-by-three-foot shadow cast by a backboard on the concrete. The dog was tied to something and had only the small shadow to stay out of the blistering sun. The dog's black hair was soaking up the sun's rays. When I approached the fence, I noticed two things: (1) the dog was panting profusely; and (2) there was no water bowl.

I knocked on the door. Realizing that I was poking my nose into a stranger's affairs, I apologized to the man who answered the door. "Please don't get mad at me," I said; "I wanted to see whether anyone was home." I pointed out that the dog was trying to avoid the sun's heat by following the shadow across the concrete. The man said, "My dogs is [sic] fine." I asked whether the dog had water. "My dogs is fine," he repeated. By this time he was walking with me around the house, to where the dog was. A second dog came running up to the fence. That one was untied. The black dog got up and approached. I pointed to the small shadow on the concrete and explained that the dog would begin to have convulsions if he or she got overheated. The man said, "My dogs is fine." He insisted that the dog had water, but I didn't see a bowl. I figured I had done enough and walked home.

The man was clearly upset with me. I knew this was going to happen, but I decided to risk injury to myself for the sake of the dog. Had I done nothing, I would have felt guilty. Now, because of the man's anger at my officiousness, I'm afraid. It was a no-win situation. What would you have done? Perhaps I should have gotten the house number and called the Humane Society or Fort Worth Animal Control. I considered this, but decided that nothing would be done. It was either go to the house personally, risking the owner's wrath, or do nothing. Can you believe that people are so cruel to their dogs? I only hope that I gave the man something to think about.

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