ethel’s words

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THE DOG QUESTION IN SALT LAKE CITY

Humans have needed dogs since those only-imagined ages reconstructed by archeologists. Dogs warned of predators that humans could not smell nor hear; dogs may have already had the seeming instinct to protect “their” humans, especially children.

Over the centuries humans have bred dogs into countless varieties, each breed having its own personality, skills, and purpose, but still--a dog, one species. All varieties can interbreed so far as gametes are concerned; all are valued.

Dogs deserve every special protection they get. Unappreciated dogs deserve protection they don’t get--protection from heat and thirst in summer; from freezing in winter; and freedom from chains and ropes and those horror-evoking cages called dog “runs”. (Of course, species needs are to be considered.)

Many persons believe that dogs’ owners should pay their own way, just as many feel that opera, ballet, and symphony should not get government funds. Certainly there are negative impacts from having dogs in our lives--for those of us who have no dog. People do get tired of cleaning up others’ dog (and cat!) feces over the decades--and even enduring the odor of meat-eaters’ scat. Many empathetic persons stay sleepless while dogs wail for their pack leader; cry in lonely, suffering neglect; or, while dogs, left out all night, bark at every innocent passer-by.

We honor the contributions special dogs make: Seeing dogs, hearing dogs, rescue dogs, and crime-fighters, as well as the less dramatic farm and herder dogs. The importance of “best-friend dogs” can hardly be measured.

All this does not justify converting green space presently used by humans to areas for dogs. The usurpation of our parks is absolutely intolerable. Particularly it is not justified when there are other options: there is vacant land that can be turned into dog-land. Dog-owners would be joined by other contributors to a fund drive to buy land. Grants might be available. Fair play will avoid development of resentment against the innocent dogs.

Dogs have rights; so do humans; so do future generations. We should not decrease actual green space for any cause, other than needed structures such as rest rooms, first aid, or administrative stations.

Ethel C. Hale