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franklin county times

The truth about cats and dogs

By Staff
Melissa Cason
When I was a little girl, I remember watching cartoons where dogs and cats would bicker and fight. The cat would taunt the dog and the dog would try to eat the cat. It was pretty much the same old thing: Dog vs. Cat. I remember watching these cartoons and laughing, but it's really no laughing matter especially if you are the cat's owner and your neighbor's dog eats him.
That is what happened in Russellville. A few months ago, the death of the cat by the neighbor's dog left the cat's owner devastated. So devastated that she filed a complaint with the Russellville Police Department and had the dog's owner arrested for violating the vicious dog ordinance.
The case recently had its day in municipal court and the dog's owner was ordered to pay $358.19, which included court fees and restitution to the cat's owner for vet expenses, by Municipal Judge Chad Coker. She was also given a 60-day suspended jail sentence. The suspended sentence means that the defendant will not have to serve the time as long as she pays the amount ordered by May 1 as well as follow other conditions of the agreement.
I know what many of you must be thinking. You are thinking that the owner should not be held liable for what her dog did, but she is, according to Russellville's vicious dog ordinance.
Before you say that this ordinance is ridiculous, you need to think about what life would be like if mean, vicious dogs ran free throughout the city. My guess is that there would be parents afraid to let their children play in their own backyards because they fear a dog might bite them. There might be senior citizens afraid to walk around the block as exercise simply because they are afraid of a mean dog. Some say this is already the case in some neighborhoods in Russellville.
While dogs can be gentle, fun-loving pets, they can also be dangerous. They can bite and scratch, and can possibly cause serious harm to someone. Some dogs have been known to kill.
All of this talk about vicious dogs makes me think of an incident back home in Arkansas. During my junior year in high school, a little girl wandered into a fence with a vicious dog, and it attacked her. The baby was about two-years-old and almost died. Her uncle was the dog's owner, and he was a co-worker of mine at the time. I have never seen such a big man cry so hard over something that could have been prevented. While the dog was caged, he knew it could potentially hurt someone because he was mean.
His niece almost died and he blamed himself. The dog was put down before the girl ever came home from the hospital, and he vowed to never own another vicious animal again. Today, she still carries a few scars as a reminder of what can happen when a vicious dog is trusted.
This incident goes to show that things can happen even when the owner is taking responsibility for his pet. I'm afraid to think about what might have happen had the dog been permitted to roam free.
Back to our county, officials say that dogs are a real problem here, and while we can't always prevent man's best friend from eating the neighbor's precious feline, we can keep families safe by keeping all vicious animals leashed or inside a fence. It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to post a sign if you have a dog that is vicious but you just can't part ways with him.
Taking these precautions may seem a little extreme, but they are necessary when it comes to keeping our communities safe. It's better to be a little inconvenienced now than sorry later.