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Letter to the Editor: About your animals

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OK, time to rant.

Today, we’ll be venting about people’s total lack of respect for their neighbors’ peace, privacy, and well-being. I’m referring to those folks who keep all manner of critters as pets, only to have them become a complete and total inconvenience to virtually everyone whose property borders theirs. Please bear in mind, that I’m talking about city dwellers here, not those that live on acreage out in the county.

Let’s start with your dog. I love dogs. I have a couple of them myself. Fantastic pets, dogs are. Here’s where dogs become a problem. First, you take your dog for a walk and it invariably views my front yard as a welcome place to do its business on your way by – in itself not the end of the world. You stare off into space as if you don’t realize what your dog is up to, and calmly walk away when they’re done – not taking their deposit with you. I get to clean up your dog’s mess from my front yard. Thank you for that. As if that’s not bad enough, let’s discuss how your dog barks for HOURS on end for reasons that no human will ever truly understand. Day, night, whatever – it really doesn’t matter. It also doesn’t seem to matter if you’re home or not – you are apparently deaf in the frequency range in which your dog barks. Somehow you can’t hear what the rest of us get to endure on an all-to-frequent basis. Lucky you.

Let’s move on to your cat. I personally don’t care for cats, but I can see how some might choose to keep them as pets. They seem to be fairly self-sufficient, requiring little more than some cat food now and then and a litter box. Hold the phone! You don’t have a litter box. You let your cat outside to do its business. On the surface this would seem to be the easiest solution to the nastiness of a cat box, but unfortunately the fence that so easily corrals your dog doesn’t slow Garfield down for one second. As such, kitty is free to do his business pretty much anywhere it pleases – your neighbor’s flower beds seem to be the most inviting. Once again, your animal’s poop in my yard for me to clean up. Seems to be a pattern forming here. While we’re on the subject of your feline companion, anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to let their cat roam free is welcome to come look at the paint job on my car. It looks as if it has been utilized as a scratching post for every cat in the county for years – seriously. And of course, any attempt by me to deter your cat from destroying my property is looked upon as animal cruelty subject to legal penalty, blah, blah, blah.

And last but certainly not least, we come to those inside the limits of our fair town that have decided that their postage stamp back yard is the perfect place to raise that quintessential of barn yard animals – chickens. Yes, chickens. In the backyard. I’d like to personally thank every member of the City Council that was involved in the incredibly ill-advised decision to allow the keeping of chickens inside city limits. The argument is that the chicken owner is after the “free” eggs. I would argue that if one added up the cost of owning chickens (chicks, coop, feed, etc.), it would probably be more cost effective to drive to Portland every time you need a couple of dozen eggs. Now, I’m not specifically against you keeping chickens. Well, as long as you keep them penned up in some way, shape, or form – which you sort of have to do by default. So, they don’t poop in my yard – great! They don’t scratch the snot out of my car – YAY! And they only make a little noise when they go about laying that egg that’s probably worth about $27 – I can live with that. What I can’t tolerate is that which ALWAYS comes along with chickens – rats. Every time, no exceptions. You keep chickens, you have rats. Period. Problem is, now your neighbors have rats too. And they don’t even get to enjoy the $27 egg. I lived in this house for over 20 years without ever so much as seeing a single rat. Not one. Almost immediately following your decision to turn your back yard into a farm, the rats arrived. I carpet bombed my yard with rat traps (at my expense) and took 8 monsters that first summer. I’m not talking about little field mice either. I’m talking about very well-fed beasts. Rat-zillas, no doubt fattened up on the buffet of chicken feed available around the clock at your place. These things are big enough to trip the motion light on the back of my house. No, I’m not making this stuff up. And now they’re under my house as well. So, we’ve once again set multiple traps baited with the finest cheeses, deployed several little rat-sized hotels filled with poison that rats seem to find irresistible, and generally declared war. Short of burning down my house, I don’t really see any other options.

So, all this being said, the bottom line is that NO ONE SHOULD BE NEGATIVELY IMPACTED BY YOUR DECISION TO OWN AN ANIMAL. No matter what flavor that particular critter might be, you assumed responsibility for everything that critter does the moment you brought it home. Period. Maybe I should return your dog and/or cat deposits to you, send you a bill for a new paint job on my car, and stack the corpses of the invading rat horde on your porch. Maybe then you’d understand, though I doubt it.

Rant over.

Robert Hanes

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  1. John Yumanski May 25, 2019

    Robert Hanes, I agree with you 100%. If I wanted to clean up cat and dog poop, I’d have a cat and/or dog. But I don’t, so I really don’t appreciate the buffoons who let their pets defecate on my property. Allowing a pet to defecate on someone else’s property should be an offense that is punishable by fine or forfeiture of the pet. I also agree with you about chickens attracting rats. One of my neighbors found out about that the hard way. It’s not the pets’ fault. I am not advocating harm to the pets. It’s the inconsiderate pet owners who need to be shocked into submission one way or another.

  2. Ryan Walter May 26, 2019


    I fully agree with your extremely well-written letter. We should not tolerate people that want to internalize the benefits of pet ownership, but externalize the associated costs of sanitation by allowing their pets to foul someone else’s yard or public spaces or anywhere else that isn’t THEIR OWN PROPERTY.

    Anti-social, irresponsible pet owners should be hit with heavy fines and then have to clean up the PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD created by their pets.

  3. Cindy Miller May 27, 2019

    Perhaps you should meet each of your neighbors with offending animals and kindly inform them of the impact they have on you. We did not know that when we left our dogs outside when no one was home that they barked incessantly. Two neighbors gave us very welcome feedback this was happening so now we lock the dogs in the house when no one is home. Problem solved amiably.

    You are a fabulous writer!! Agree with all you said. We have dogs and a cat BUT we try hard not to allow them to impact our neighbors. We pick up is always in the house (all cats should be so they don’t die young), some of our neighbors’ dogs bark a lot but we don’t mind as more tolerant than you. It is just background noise. However, when our dogs bark we immediately “quiet them” when home.

  4. Ryan Walter May 27, 2019

    Cindy Miller,

    The time for talk has long passed. We should NOT have to tell pet owners the obvious like “don’t let your dogs foul public property because it’s a HEALTH HAZARD”. They know their actions are dangerous to public health. They know it’s downright disgusting and bloody uncivilized to intentionally let their pets foul other people’s yards. They know their behavior is anti-social. They know when their dogs bark and disturb others. They know about the rats that are a common consequence of raising chicken. So let’s just forget about neighborly chats across the white picket fence, shall we?

    Robert Hanes is correct in his statement about pet owners. NO ONE SHOULD BE NEGATIVELY IMPACTED BY YOUR DECISION TO OWN AN ANIMAL. Period.

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