Today, I woke up to a dog barking outside. The time was just a few minutes shy of 4:30 AM. Mike was already on the phone with the West Fargo Police Department when I got up. Mike called the police because the neighbor behind us (who lives on Sheyenne Court in West Fargo) had put out his dog, a cute Sheltie named Buddy, and would not let him back in despite the fact that the dog was obviously suffering from the effects of the temperature (which was below zero). By the time Mike called the police Buddy had been outside barking for a half hour. There is no way to know how long Buddy had been out there before he started to desperately bark at the door to get back in. According to Mike, the owner had come to his sliding glass door and knocked on the door in an attempt to get him to stop barking, but did not let him in. It was Mike’s sense from what he saw that the man was punishing Buddy.
I called the West Fargo Police Department myself after I had been up for 20 minutes and Buddy was still outside barking desperately at the door. By the time I called it was apparent that Buddy was struggling to walk. I stood with my nosed pressed against my sliding glass door for ten more minutes before I asked Mike to just go out and grab him over the back fence. Unfortunately, Buddy wouldn’t come off the deck steps and cross the yard so that Mike could grab him. Mike wanted to go over to the house and “talk” to the neighbor, but having lived here a number of years and having observed that neighbor’s behavior over time I knew that would end badly. Mike is 6’3″ and not a fan of animal cruelty and not the type to shy away from confrontation; and, that neighbor, well…let’s just say he is a “Richard” and he would likely foolishly engage Mike. In the time I have lived here I have seen this man be cruel to, and treat poorly, a number of dogs. Even Mike, in his short time around here has seen some questionable behavior by this “Richard” toward his dogs. I had to subdue Mike once before from going over there and having a word with that neighbor about the way he was treating his dog.
Thankfully, the West Fargo Police Department finally came around to our neighborhood. Mike flagged down the officer showed him where the house was and the officer headed over there. I stood there by the sliding glass door the whole time, watching Buddy bark and hobble around on his frozen little paws. It sickened me. I was so grateful that he would finally get inside, but a little worried that the man would retaliate against him after the police officer left.
Yet, 10 or so minutes after the police officer had arrived at Buddy’s house, Buddy was still outside. At that point in time we know Buddy had been outside barking to get in for at least an hour (and who knows how much longer he was outside before that). I must say, I was getting a little frantic. From where my house sits I could not tell if the police were still there or not and I was concerned that Buddy’s situation was growing more desperate by the minute. So I asked Mike to go over there – not to talk to the owner, just to grab the dog so he could bring him in to get warm. I had rationalized in my mind at that point that dog-napping in these conditions was entirely justified. When Mike got over to the house he saw what I could not from my sliding glass door – two police cars and a number of officers who were trying to get the guy who lives in the house to come to the door. Apparently, the West Fargo Police Department cannot just go into the yard and take the dog. Of course, Mike said he would take the dog for them (God love the man – no animals will be harmed intentionally under his watch), but the officers wouldn’t allow that. So, Mike came back home and the police kept trying to get the “Richard” to answer the door. Finally, at about 5:20 the “Richard” came to the sliding glass door and opened it for Buddy to come in. Buddy could barely hobble into the house by that point.
I worry about the repurcussions Buddy will face from this incident. First, as a result of his extended exposure and second as a result of retribution coming from the “Richard” who I know from past experience to be mean-spirited and vengeful. I hope the city will see fit to charge him under some animal protection ordinance that makes him appreciate that he needs to take better care of his pets. For today, I am just happy that Mike and I were around to be able to do something and that Buddy got inside before he was dead. I will be watching for him over the next few days to see if he looks like he has suffered any permanent impairment. And I’ll be watching the “Richard” as well – and I damn well hopes he knows it and acts accordingly. Mike and I aren’t going to sit idle while he neglects or mistreats his dogs. He can be a “Richard” to people all he wants, but when a person acts like that with pets who do nothing but love them – well, then it is time for an intervention. I am counting on you City of West Fargo to be that intervention – don’t let me down…and don’t let Buddy down.
Day nine hundred and twenty-eight of the new forty – obla di obla da