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Right Call

Frank Gerjevic / Commentary / Anchorage Daily News / May 11, 2005

Biologist Rick Sinnott shot two dogs who were mauling a cow moose trying to defend its calf on Saturday morning.

That sentence should suffice to explain why he did it.

Like many Alaskans, I love dogs. Like many Alaskans, I am not of the leash-at-all-times school. And sometimes my dogs have paid a price.

When I lived in Chugiak, a man in the neighborhood shot one of my dogs, a husky mix who'd likely been abused and whom I'd adopted from the pound. Sam was a gentle dog, except in matters of mating, porcupines and birds. He once bloodied his snout to a mess trying to break through wire mesh to reach a female in season. He came home one night with a face that looked frosted, until he came closer and I realized his face was full of porcupine quills -- nostrils, lips, tongue, eyelids. I spent several hours getting enough quills out of him so that he could drink, and he spent the next day with a vet who finished the job.
But it was birds that did him in. He apparently was trying to raid a yard with ducks and geese. I didn't know he'd been shot until some kids told me a neighbor was shooting dogs. I talked to the neighbor. He was evasive, but he finally allowed that he might have shot my dog. He said neighborhood dogs had nailed some of his birds and he'd had enough. I asked him to pick up the phone before he pulled the trigger next time. And I didn't like finding Sam eight months later after breakup, along a small stream-fed lake nearby, where he'd either run or been dumped.

But Sam's fate was my fault. I didn't care for the shooter, but he wouldn't have shot Sam if Sam hadn't gone after his birds.

I still have a tolerant attitude about dogs. The spirit of the leash law is more important than the letter, and if a dog wanders up my driveway or trots up to me on a trail I'm happy to say hello -- provided it's friendly, or at least neutral.

But that tolerance ends swiftly with any threat. Rick Sinnott showed considerable forbearance in trying to run the pit bull and Rottweiler off before shooting them. He made the right call when he fired.

Frank Gerjevic

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