Mama Dog isn’t wandering our street or sitting at the corner, waiting and watching for her puppies anymore.
Mama Dog is dead. She was shot with a tranquilizer gun last week in our yard, a few feet from the green plastic dog dish from which Jenny and I had been feeding her.
Hers is a sad tale. She was a beautiful black-and-white dog that had been around our neighborhood for months. She was skittish and would bark and move away if you approached her. But we would see her every day. She didn’t seem to bother any of the neighborhood children or dogs, and she had become what one neighbor called a “fixture.”
… At least until a couple of weeks ago, when we saw the animal control officer’s truck parked at a neighbor’s house. He was out by a shed in the back, and the dog was barking and wailing and racing around.
The dog catcher fished six puppies out from under the shed and carried them to the cage in the back of his pick-up truck. The black-and-white dog kept barking and wailing, but was careful to stay out of reach.
For the next several days, Mama Dog, that’s the name Jenny and I gave her, would be sitting at the corner or on the vacant lot behind the shed, keeping a vigil for her puppies. Jenny and I felt sorry for her and started leaving food out, first Milk Bones at the corner and then bowls of dog food in our yard. We hoped to befriend her and find her a home.
But that changed a week ago. Jenny found an aluminum canister with a spike-like needle on one end in our yard. A neighbor reported seeing the dog catcher in our yard that day.
When I called Jim Taylor, the animal control officer, to ask about the situation, he said he had the dog.
He said he and a county employee had chased the dog through several yards before it collapsed and that she was “not doing well.”
He said he did not take the dog to a vet for treatment, and would not know until the next day whether the dog would revive.
He said he had returned several times to try to catch the dog because of repeated complaints from the neighbor under whose shed the puppies were born.
And the puppies? They were taken to the Tupelo Lee Humane Society animal shelter. Taylor said he was uncertain whether they survived because they were too young to be taken from their mother, which he said he told the homeowner at the time.
The next day Taylor called me, as he had promised. The dog was dead. He stressed to me that he does not go through neighborhoods picking up dogs, unless he receives a complaint. When he receives a complaint, he has to act on it, he said.
Ironically, that very afternoon, someone who had read about Mama Dog’s plight in the paper stopped me and asked if we had found her a home. If not, she wanted to help.
In the end, those of us who would have cared were too late to help Mama Dog.
Maybe the next time, we’ll act a little faster. We’ll feed dogs that are hungry, and put a blanket on the sheltered corner of the porch on cold, rainy nights. We can’t find homes for every unloved, distressed dog. But we can try. We can do it in Mama Dog’s memory.
T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.