Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Animal Stories

People asked me about it wherever I went yesterday, so I might as well give you my take on the skunk that invaded the WNEP newsroom Monday morning.

I was seated at the camera position in the newsroom at 5:30 AM.  As always, there's a weather "hit" at the beginning of each half hour.  Joe Snedeker broke the news that he accidentally let a skunk in the building.  The critter surprised him as he opened the door.  Joe surprised the skunk, in return, and the little guy ran in the door, rather than running toward the woods.

As I watched Joe on the monitor, and listened to him in my ear, I thought he was kidding.  I've been around skunks all my life.  It's part of growing up in NEPA.  They usually avoid human contact.

A moment after Joe's pronouncement, and mere seconds before I was to go on, the skunk scurried past my chair, only about three feet away from my shoes.  It happened so fast, and I was stunned.  There was no time to jump, or yell, or do anything like that.  The skunk didn't spray me.  I assume he was conveying a professional courtesy.

A few of us searched the newsroom, and there was no luck finding the skunk.  He was later located in a cabinet in an area we went over.  I'm glad the skunk was found.  Only a few of us saw him, and I didn't want people to think I was crazy.

Skunks are cool little animals, with a funky walk and big fluffy tails.  As I've noted here in the past, when I smell a skunk in late winter, I know spring is right around the corner because that's the time of year skunks go looking for love.  I like skunks, but not that close.

On a much, much more serious note...

It's happened three times in recent months.  Mean dogs have come charging at me while I was walking my mellow old beagle.  In one instance, I had to place my dog up on a wall to keep her away from the charging dog.  In another instance, I had to get between the menacing dog and my dog.  Sunday morning, I had to kick a big dog to shove it away and keep it off my little dog.

A neighbor who walks a cute little puggy dog every day had a similar experience recently.

And, that's on top of dodging loads of crap all over town from pet owners who refused to clean up after their dogs.

In one case, I waved down a passing police officer to point out some irresponsible pet owner who let her dogs run free.

Other than that, I don't know what to do.  My dog and I like our exercise, and we don't want to be prisoners in our own home, but I no longer feel safe.

I have had it with people who refuse to train and control their dogs.

Do I have to walk with a baseball bat, or pepper spray, or more?  There has to be answer and a way to get through to people who shouldn't own dogs.  Something has to be done before someone or some innocent dog gets hurt.