(This column was published in the North Shore News on April 5, 2000)


Dog tale needs happy ending

By Leo Knight

TO say that being a police officer is a frustrating endeavour is an understatement.  


Being at the sharp end of a legal system that continually seems to fail in its essential duty to protect the citizens of our fair country makes the frustration inevitable.  


But sometimes the job can be rewarding, not just for a big arrest, or the successful conclusion of a lengthy and complicated investigation, but for the little things.  


Let's take a look at something that happened in early January on the west side of Vancouver.  


In the words of Snoopy, "It was a dark and stormy night." Really.  


VPD officers were called to a typical "youths annoying" complaint on the grounds of Van Horne elementary. The youths in question had departed, typically, before the police could arrive and give them a stern finger wagging. Which is just about the most they can do in this day and age. But I digress.  


In the course of looking around for the ne'er-do-wells, one of the officers came across a very wet, very scared and very pregnant German shepherd. The dog was shaking like a leaf and appeared to be frightened of the officer.  


After finally getting near enough to the soon-to-be mum, the officer was able to see that she was well-fed, had a collar but no tags, and had a well-kept coat. In other words, she appeared to have wandered from her owner and wasn't a stray.  


Consequently, he called the pound and had her taken to more suitable environs while they tried to find an owner.  


Now this might have been the end of the story had the dog's master been more concerned and humane. But, apparently, that individual didn't care a whit and they soon came to the realization that no owner would be calling for the dog.  


In most cases this would have spelled the demise of the dog, a fine looking shepherd in the prime of her life. But not these days in Vancouver. The pound, you see, has a "no destruction" policy and seeks alternative solutions to euthanizing the dogs.  


They placed the dog with a family in Langley who promised to foster it and the soon to be born pups until suitable homes could be found for all.  


On Jan. 22, the dog, by now named "Emma" by her foster mum, gave birth to six pups -- four males and two females. All are bright, chipper, healthy and, by all accounts, cute as a bug's ear.  


Emma then began the instinctive process of nurturing her off-spring. A couple of weeks later, a poster with pictures showed up at Vancouver Police Headquarters at 2120 Cambie, looking for homes for Emma and the pups.  


The police officer who found Emma, a grizzled veteran of more than 25 years of policing the mean streets, kept in touch with the foster family. To date, all but two of the pups have been adopted and Emma has recovered well from her ordeal.  


Ironically, in the same week that the Vancouver Police found Emma, they had to deal with another dog incident in the same part of the city that did not have such a happy ending.  


"Cassius," a mature pit bull terrier, somehow managed to get free and bit a small child in the head, causing some very frightening injuries.  


Cassius was restrained and brought to the same pound. But because of his aggressive nature, the police sought an order to have him destroyed. The owner of the dog finally agreed not to oppose the destruction order and Cassius was put down.  


Now I should say that Cassius was not, by nature, a vicious dog. Somehow being chained up all the time by a testosterone-laden owner led to the aggressive behaviour.  


As the owner of a beautiful, well-trained, even tempered shepherd myself, it's hard to conceive how anyone could turn their back on a dog like Emma or permanently chain up a dog like Cassius. Containing is one thing, but chaining, in that manner, is abuse.  


Fortunately for Emma, she was found by a caring police officer who went well beyond the call of duty to help a beautiful dog in distress. Equally fortunate for her, the Vancouver pound has decided to find humane alternative methods of dealing with animals coming to their care. The fostering program and those who volunteer are to be commended.  


As for Emma, the police officer who found her would love to keep her, but he already has a jealous rottweiler.  


If anyone reading this would like to provide a home for a pretty terrific, well-tempered German shepherd or one of the two remaining pups, please e-mail me and I'll put you in touch with the foster family.  


Some stories do need a happy ending after all.  






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