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I Shot a Family Member To Death Today

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Though I sometimes speak in religious metaphor, I’m not really much of a believer in God. Yet sometimes things have to make me wonder, such as the situation here on the farm this week with our dogs. I wrote recently about being God to our animals, and needing to take the responsibility to kill them sometimes.

I’ve never in 42 years actually had to make such a decision though, but just a few days after writing about such things I got circumstances handed to me like a test from Yahweh. At the tail end of a lovely weekend with the godson and his mama, I got a call from home explaining that Ramblin’ Jack had nearly killed my beloved terrier the Fugitive.

Ramblin’ Jack just rambled onto the farm a few months ago. That’s how almost all of our dogs ever arrive. The other dogs didn’t want him there, but we humans run the place, and we said the poor fellow could stay.

Jack was some kind of bulldog, as we could see from his powerful jaws. You could also tell it by his aggressive behavior in the yard with the other dogs. After the first few days hiding under bushes this spring, he figured on taking over the place, at least as far as dogs were concerned. He was probably 40 pounds and the Fugitive maybe half that.

Now, the dogs will fight over the food bowl, or scraps or general status. A little tussling in the yard is expected. But never have we had a dog ready to absolutely kill the others. Jack about killed the Fugitive but for serious human intervention several times.

A couple of months ago, he went into kill mode on the Fugitive right at my feet as I was going out to take my walk. The 70 pound coon dog Rouser couldn’t get him off, nor was poking him with my walking staff making any impression. I absolutely busted my favorite oak walking staff in two across his back- and didn’t even get his attention. I busted it in two again, and then kicked him pretty good before he even noticed I was there.

Now, we can’t have him killing other dogs. Particularly we can’t have him killing my favorite Fugitive. The Fugitive was hurt, and even the Rouser was hurt trying to police him.

The next day, I called the vet and scheduled his neutering. Hated to do that to him, but I figured that’d ratchet him down a notch or two. He got his shots, and fixing, and put back in the yard. I was told it might take a month or so for the behavioral effects to be fully manifest.

It did seem to settle him down for a minute. Doc figured him for just about a year old. He took out his last baby teeth. But he wasn’t quite full grown, and he has since gotten bigger and again more aggressive.

Monday morning, I was just concluding a lovely weekend with my tough little godson and the Thug’s Ma when I got a call from home that my Fugitive was hurt. It took three men to get Jack off my little terrier. The old man locked Jack up in our basement, and wasn’t going to say the obvious. He was waiting for me to name it.

Ramblin’ Jack needed to be put down. The neighbors had already volunteered to do it. It’s not their dog, so they don’t have emotional attachments to him as a pet.

I do. Jack had been rough with other dogs, but had never in my knowledge so much as looked cross ways at a human. He loved me, and was routinely the first dog to find me coming back from having been dropped off for my walk. There’s no doubt in my mind that anyone intending me harm would have to kill him to get to me.

But he absolutely couldn’t live with the other dogs. It was perfectly clear that he was going to kill the Fugitive, and eventually the rest of the dogs. He was just a natural born killer, and there was no changing that. Plus, being that aggressive, he was just flatly going to be a danger to humans eventually.

I stopped at K-Mart on the way home and bought a 20 foot dog chain. It was dark by the time I got home, and we didn’t discuss the matter further. Fugitive was hiding under the other car when I came in, and wouldn’t come out to see me- which meant he was badly hurt and traumatized. Even ol’ Rouser had a big open hole from those powerful jaws.

Early this morning, I took Jack out of the basement and chained him up in the woods. I came back to the house. I got a bolt action .22 rifle, went back to the woods and put a bullet between the eyes from about a foot away. He fell over dead without so much as a yelp. His legs twitched slightly a couple of times, but they were still within the maybe three seconds it took to work the bolt and put another cartridge into the chamber. Still, I put another shot in from under the chin just to make sure I wasn’t leaving him to suffer. Then I went back to the house and made morning coffee.

Additionally, later this evening the neighbor boy told us that Jack had been biting at his ankles recently as he rode his quad down the lane. This was the only time I heard of aggression with a human, and it reconfirms my calculation that he was going to become a danger to humans. However, I only heard this a few hours after I had already put the dog down, so it didn’t enter into my reasoning.

The neighbors would have done it for us, but that didn’t really seem right. It was a Barger dog, and it was for me to do. I’ll do my own dirty work. Likewise with family. If I had been Ted Kaczynski’s brother, the guy would have just quietly disappeared like Dutch’s alley cat.

Plus, it would be making too much production to bring the neighbors in, and I wanted to know that it was done right. What I would have imagined of the final scene would have been a lot worse than what I know it to have actually been from just taking the responsibility to do it myself.

As it is, I know Ramblin’ Jack went instantly and painlessly. He didn’t have a clue what was coming. One second he was, and the next he simply was not. I can only pray that my own end is so quick, unexpected and painless when the day comes.

I had one other option: I could have kept Ramblin’ Jack on a chain for the rest of his natural life. But dying isn’t nearly as bad as living on a chain. I wouldn’t want to do it, and I wouldn’t put a dog through it. I used to get grief with the grandparents for letting their dogs off the chains. I’ve said for years that I’d shoot a dog before I’d make it live on a chain. As you can see, I meant it.

I got no pleasure from having to kill a pet, but I will admit to being pleased by my neutral emotional response. I’d never purposely killed anything bigger than a bug, other than maybe a few fish. I was tore up for a week when our Cujo dog came up dead in the yard, and we hadn’t had him as long as Ramblin’ Jack.

Yet I took this dog that I liked pretty well, and put two bullets into his brain- and I don’t feel bad about it really at all. I would describe the experience as mildly distasteful. My friend anguished a bit about killing her cat, partly because it was perhaps a marginal call. Ramblin’ Jack, however, was not a marginal call. He was just too dangerous to live. I protected my Fugitive and the rest of the family. The end.

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  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Or you could have taken him to the vet and had him “put to sleep” peacefully, like normal people do.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    I’m sure it was tough, but I believe you did the right thing. Quick, painless. Just like how 100% of us wish we’d go, but only 10% of us get to go…

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    BHW:

    Yeah, most people would have done that. But why involve a third-party, if you don’t have to?

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    or you could have taken him to the pound and they could have tried to find someone who specializes in hard to manage dogs.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    BHW, I question your definition of “normal people.” And if normal people are not willing to take responsibility for doing their own killing, but rather have to get someone to do their dirty work because they’re too squeamish, then I’m not particularly interested in being “normal.” Out here, taking responsibility for your own animals would be considered normal.

    Plus, in what way would it be better to have a vet do it than to do it myself? How long does it take for a vet’s shot to work, a minute? That’s about 100 times longer than what he got.

    Also, it would be a waste of money that I don’t have. That’s a vet visit that could be used to take care of one of the other animals that we’re keeping.

    The only point in gettng a vet to do it, or taking him to the pound would be to avoid taking responsibility for doing what clearly needed done.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    “or you could have taken him to the pound and they could have tried to find someone who specializes in hard to manage dogs.”

    This is possible, but unlikely.

    Most likely, the dog is never adopted, and gets the needle.

    Or, the first family that expresses some interest in the animal is never told about its anti-social behavior, and they adopt a vicious killer into their home, putting themselves (as well as other pets) at risk.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    I agree it’s unlikely, but the dog still gets put down humanely then.

    I would doubt that the pound would not pass along the anti-social behavior info, because then they can be sued. When we rescued our yellow lab from the pound, they notified us beforehand of his social problems. And I’ve blogged before about our black lab and her spastic behavior. She’s known as a ‘silly’ dog. Flunked out of obedience school. Some people can handle hard to manage animals, they might have the proper home conditions to do so.

    Ultimately though, it’s the owners decision to do what he wants, it just wasn’t the only option.

  • http://somethingaboutchelsea.blogspot.com Chelsea Snyder

    BHW: Or you could have taken him to the vet and had him “put to sleep” peacefully, like normal people do.”

    I think we’ve all discovered that when dealing with Al, “normal” is quite relative.

  • RogerMDillion

    “Quick, painless. Just like how 100% of us wish we’d go,”

    You mean like Terri Schiavo?

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    “You mean like Terri Schiavo?”

    How is being starved to death over two weeks either “quick” or “painless”?

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Of course, if Terri was in such a bad condition that her brain was practically dead, she couldn’t really consciously feel any pain.

    So, putting a bullet between her eyes would have been at least quicker, and would not have factored in at all in the “painless” scale…

    Of course, renting out her mindless body to deranged necrophiliacs for 50 bucks a go wouldn’t have been any more ethically challenging than merely starving her to death over two weeks, right? After all, it’s not like she would have known what the hell was going on. And you could always donate the proceeds to a charity!

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Miss Chelsea, so glad to have your input, as ever. Again though, I say that the meaning of “normal” here is being hijacked.

    Out here on the farm, if you have an animal that needs to be destroyed, then you take it out back and do it, with as little fuss as possible.

    BHW wants to set a standard that squeamishness, unnecessary drama and expense, and fobbing off the responsibility onto others is “normal” behavior. I reject this idea.

    Best I see it, if I need to have one of my animals put down, the cleanest, simplest, least stressful and most spiritually proper and responsible thing is to just do it myself.

    How am I wrong?

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    It’s quick and painless when you have no ability to sense time or pain.

    But back to the topic at hand.

    I had to deal with the same situation a few years ago with a dog we adopted from the pound who decided it was her role in life to attack the elderly female dog we had before we got her. After trying to deal with the attacks and seeing that they just got more and more severe, we ultimately had to take her back to the pound with explicit information on her behavioral problems. I assume they gave her the needle. Under different circumstances I would have done as Al did – I’ve shot a few wild dogs on our land before – but I felt that this particular dog was really the humane society’s responsibility, so I went along with my wife and sent her back. Not a pleasant experience.

    Dave

  • http://www.iamcorrect.com Lono

    Al,

    I understand and am able to empathize with your point. I also want to say that is the best and most lucid writing you have ever done here at BC.

    Great fuckin’ work, champ. Sorry about he dog, but we’ll all get on.

    lono

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Thanks so much Lono. Yeah, I hated to put the puppy down, but I sure wasn’t going to wait around for him to kill my Fugitive.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Al, what a great piece! It’s pieces like this that show the real Al Barger as I see him. You did what you knew was right and rather than dispatch the duty to another, you took charge. It’s a metaphor for the way we all should live our lives.

  • http://sussfr.blogspot.com Matthew T. Sussman

    RJ: “Why involve a third-party?”

    Al is the third party.

  • http://feminist4fathers.blogspot.com/ Teri

    This was a touching story. Thank you for sharing it.

  • http://somethingaboutchelsea.blogspot.com Chelsea Snyder

    How is it a thread about Bob shooting a dangerous dog hijacked into a thread about Terri Schiavo? Just curious.

    Sorry about your dog, Al, it sucks regardless of the circumstances. When I was 6 I watched my grandfather do the same thing. Must be our rural Indiana logic, because I think for once (and document this, as it may be the only time) you and I are on the same wavelength.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Imagine if we could get 20% of the country to accomplish what Chelsea and Al have. Hang on, Chelsea, it starts with Terri Schiavo. Then comes gay marriage and abortion.

  • http://somethingaboutchelsea.blogspot.com Chelsea Snyder

    We’re shooting the gays and aborted fetuses? Party!!!!

  • http://sussfr.blogspot.com Matthew T. Sussman

    Shooting an aborted fetus is not a crime. It’s already been aborted.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    Some of these are strictly urban views of what was, essentially, a rural dilemma. That sounds silly, but ultimately it’s the rural people that understand that death and killing (of cows, of chickens, of crop-eating rodents) is a fact of life.

    Al, you did the right thing. And you did it humanely.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Suss, we need to pass a law protecting the rights of aborted fetuses not to be abused or molested. Only then will Jesus come and take us directly to heaven.

    Dave

  • http://somethingaboutchelsea.blogspot.com Chelsea Snyder

    Can we still have an Aborted Fetus Shooting Party in the meantime? I know Olsen’s house is always a great locale …

  • http://somethingaboutchelsea.blogspot.com Chelsea Snyder

    Or better yet, pinatas? Pin the tail on the fetus?

    I have secured myself a cozy little place in the deepest layer of hell….

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    Can we still have an Aborted Fetus Shooting Party in the meantime?

    Aw, can’t we do something original? I mean, all the targets at my shooting range are aborted-fetus-shaped.

  • http://www.nrlc.org/ Anthony Grande

    You know metaphorically the title of this thread can apply to a mother who had an abortion today.

  • http://www.nrlc.org/ Anthony Grande

    You know metaphorically the title of this thread coud be the title of a thread written by a woman who had an abortion today.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    Why Anthony, son, are you posting about abortion? Oh, my God! What a complete switch from your usual! Man, you just have SO many different interests! How DO you manage to juggle all those insights into such a large number of issues????

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Anthony, give it a rest. Not every damned thing in the entire damned universe is about abortion. We’ve heard your abortion screed multiple times already. SAVE IT.

  • http://sussfr.blogspot.com Matthew T. Sussman

    Chels and Suss umbillical-cord-ially invite you to the First Annual Blogcritics Partialbirth-a-palooza.

    BYOAF

  • Thugs Ma

    I was there when Al made the decision.

    I was mildly concerned. I wanted to make sure Al could do so cleanly and with good conscience. He had no problem. He’d been around guns enough to pull the trigger without shooting himself in the foot. “Well, Al, guess you know what you need to do.”

    It’s never a pleasant decision. I’m sure people will weigh in that he should find an owner willing to take a hard-to-manage pets. That he was cruel in killing it.

    But really it comes down to a value judgement regarding whether the dog is worth such an investment in time to find that perfect owner willing to take on an uncivil mutt. And it’s an ethical decision about entrusting someone with a vicious dog.

    This isn’t a Californial condor we’re talking about here. It was an half-vicious dog (which in the sticks we call “ill”), in a nation full of them running loose.

    The most interesting aspect to me is the reaction from people who think the vet should put our animals down. It leaves us at a comfortable distance from the doings of death. Sure, for most people it makes sense. You don’t own a gun. You’re in the city. It’s not practical. Or you don’t have the ability. You don’t have the heart. At those times, it’s best to let someone else handle it. But be there. At least be there.

    I don’t think it’s good to maintain distance — from getting your hands dirty in the goings-on of life. When death finally strikes those around us, we’re so unused to the idea — so immune from it — that it knocks us to our knees harder, in a way that we feel crazy traumatized and unprepared to recover.

    There was a time when we birthed our own, buried our own, and did all the steps in between. Our babies came into the world, slippery with blood, held in Grandma’s or the midwife’s hands in our own bedrooms. We took the door off the hinges as a cooling board when we prepared our dead. Like Faulkner’s Cash, we nailed together coffins in our backyards. We killed and butchered our meat. We were involved in life and death up to the elbows.

    I’m all for technology — particularly in doctoring and birthing. It saved me when the Thug came into the world, ass backward and with the cord wrapped twice around his neck. One hundred years ago, we both would died a pretty harrowing death. So, I’m not saying go back to the land or something equally as goofy.

    I’m just saying — at least in my case — that I don’t want other people to take responsibility for things I can do. I don’t want to hide from it.

    Nowadays, our culture is specialized in a way that frees us from unpleasantness. It free us up to do other things, to be productive. It also can dull the senses, if we let it.

    As much as possible, it’s best to be there right there, front and center.

    Al took responsibility. He didn’t kill the dog with malice, but with calm determination to do the right thing. He participated, rather than protecting himself from unpleasantness.

    His moral certainty kept him from feeling angst. But he was moved enough to write about it.

    In the end, I think he’s better for having done it. And the dog is better off too. The fact is, if Al hadn’t done it, one of the neighbors would have eventually fixed his problem for him. And who would know whether their aim or intentions would have been as true?

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    I find it impossible to argue with anyone who invokes Faulkner. Damn it.

  • http://somethingaboutchelsea.blogspot.com Chelsea Snyder

    You know, Anthony, I like to kill babies while giving no consideration to their will to live. It’s fun.

    I take it you won’t be RSVP-ing the PartialBirthapalooza?

  • http://www.nrlc.org/ Anthony Grande

    Hey I was just using the title to make a play on words and you guys jump all me.

  • http://somethingaboutchelsea.blogspot.com Chelsea Snyder

    Anthony, run along. Grown-ups are talking.

    Don’t you have a sixth period study hall to go irritate?

  • http://www.nrlc.org/ Anthony Grande

    Baby dies

    Anthony Cries

    Abortionists laugh at Anthony

    I scream BLASFEMY!!!

    Abortionist dies

    In hell they will here the baby’s cries

    for Eternity!!!

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    Anthony Grande, ladies and gentlemen. Just in case you’ve ever said to yourself, “Man! What kind of a kid grows up to plant bombs in Planned Parenthood?”

  • RogerMDillion

    “I scream BLASFEMY!!!”

    You’d have to scream it because no one would understand what was written on your sign.

    It’s funny to watch someone who hasn’t had sex prattle on abortion, but of course you are still wet from the womb. It’s because of you that people favor abortions in the 54th trimester

  • http://www.suddennothing.net LegendaryMonkey

    A couple of months ago, he went into kill mode on the Fugitive right at my feet as I was going out to take my walk. The 70 pound coon dog Rouser couldn’t get him off, nor was poking him with my walking staff making any impression. I absolutely busted my favorite oak walking staff in two across his back- and didn’t even get his attention. I busted it in two again, and then kicked him pretty good before he even noticed I was there.

    I’m not even sure how to respond to this.

    How could you keep this animal if you felt you had to break a walking stick over his back, and kick him?

    Obviously, this animal did not belong with you.

    I agree with Steve S in comment #4… you could have tried to find someone who COULD have handled this animal… rather than beating him and then killing him.

    I know you and I feel differently on how to handle things like this, but I am horrified at the lines I quoted above… and even moreso by the fact that you kept the dog after that.

    I grew up with dogs. We always had dogs. Monkey girl spent plenty of time in the country herself. And we had violent dogs, too. But it’s no longer 1847 and there are things that can be done besides taking the animal out back and putting a bullet into its head.

    And then you go in to make coffee?

    I couldn’t even finish reading. I’m tempted to come over there and beat you with my stick, just to see how you take to it. But that would make me something of a hypocrite, I suppose.

    Though I tend to think you need it, some days.

  • http://www.blogcritics.com T A Dodger

    Al,
    I’m sure it was very difficult to do what you did, but I hope that if you ever find yourself with a dog that you can’t keep in the future, you’ll consider other options.

    There ARE no-kill animal shelters, but if you live in a rural area (and obviously you do), there might not be one close by.

    A rescue organization would probably be the best choice. You say this was a bulldog-type dog, so you could have passed it on to Bulldog Club Rescue (Click here for the rescue contact in your state) or American Bulldog Rescue,, or Operation K9 Rescue. Each of these organizations specializes in bully breeds, and would have placed your dog with a foster family while they looked for a permanent home with no other dogs.

    A quick google search would be enough to find an organization that would have taken the dog off your hands and that would eventually have placed him in an acceptable home and would have committed to not putting him down.

    Also, of course, you could have chained him TEMPORARILY while you looked for a good home, and then you could have made sure he went to someone with no other dogs.

    Andra

  • http://www.blogcritics.com T A Dodger

    I got no pleasure from having to kill a pet, but I will admit to being pleased by my neutral emotional response.

    This is incredibly disturbing. Sometimes we have to do terrible things, but it’s when we cease to find them so that we become terrible ourselves.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Monkey (comment 41), you’re not being rational here. Poking the dog gently wasn’t getting his attention, and even breaking the stick did not get his attention. What should I have done instead of whacking him with the stick, just let him kill my Fugitive? Now, probably I should have just took Jack out back right then and done it.

    But I didn’t WANT to do that, and was looking for a better solution. I had high hopes that neutering would settle him down. It didn’t work.

    The dog wandered in as a stray, and I did what I reasonably could to make it work. The dog was just way too dangerous though, and he had to go.

    No, I’m not going to put it off on somebody else to fool with him. The world’s better off with one less vicious dog running around.

    Why is it bad to put an animal down anyway? Why is it so bad that you would think we should go to extraordinary lengths to avoid killing a dog? Death is part of life. It’s going to die eventually, and this was quick and clean and better for everyone else.

    As to beating ME with a stick, if you come to the farm and find me trying to rip the neighbor’s throat out, then please do so.

    Andra, I simply don’t think that putting an animal down is particularly a “terrible” thing. Putting him down did not make me feel terrible, but rather it made me feel like a responsible adult.

    It is my rational judgment that this was something that needed to be done, and that I should not feel all emotionally traumatized about doing it. Emotions do not always follow our rational judgments, of course, so I was glad that in this case they did.

    Thus, as the Legendary Monkey was so offended to note, I took care of business and then I was done with it emotionally. Time for some coffee, and checking my email. I did not need or intend on doing some kind of hand wringing penance when I had done nothing wrong.

    Andra and LM, I assume that you opponents of killing animals are both strict vegetarians. Surely having pigs and cows and chickens killed simply because they taste good is far worse than putting down a dangerous dog.

  • http://www.suddennothing.net LegendaryMonkey

    I’m not an opponent of killing animals. Once again you take things to ridiculous extremes rather than arguing the matter at hand. You’re very good at that, Al.

    I am, however, in favor of owning up — as a responsible adult — when you obviously cannot care for an animal in a way that is beneficial to both you and them. I have done this myself. If nothing else, take the animal to the humane society. If they cannot find anyone to take him, knowing what they know about his temperament, let them put him down.

    But you could have at least given him a chance. Instead you beat him, instead of simply pulling him back (and you’re a big boy, could you not manage that?), and when you couldn’t “fix” him by neutering him (because, I suppose, you’re an expert in animal behavior, O Al Who Knows All?), you shot him.

    I don’t take issue with the dog’s death. Yes, sometimes it is necessary to put an animal down. I take issue with the way it came about and the way you treated him before you took him out back and shot him in the head.

  • http://www.suddennothing.net LegendaryMonkey

    And let me just add that it is likely he became the way he was because someone else beat him and kicked him and then left him to wander — also not a responsible decision.

  • Thugs Ma

    Legendarymonkey obviously has never tried to break up a serious dog fight. “Just pull him back?” I don’t think so — not and get bit your damned self. And pulling a dog off another in the middle of a fight is just near impossible when they’re intent on killing.

    Al did what he could with what he had available at the time. He didn’t have a huge time to act, not and save the smaller dog.

    The bad thing in my mind was that he broke his walking stick.

    I don’t see a bit how Al was taking things to ridiculous extremes in his commentary.

    It comes down to an ethical decision. I don’t believe in foisting a problem off on another, by taking the dog to the humane society. For one thing, I don’t know any dog pound that’s a pleasant place to be. You’re trusting a bunch of often ill-trained yahoos to place the dog in a home, to pass on info that the dog is violent, and indirectly you take responsibility if the dog goes medieval on somebody else.

    Ultimately, after the dog sits there for months and months, you’re pushing the responsibility for killing it off on other people. And paying for killing that dog gets foisted off on the humane society or county government.

    The dog wasn’t fit to be around humans or other dogs. There’s no way that I’d pawn that dog off on someone else.

    I’m behind Al on this one.

    And why do people have to display huge suffering during tough decisions, as if crying about it is required to show people that you care.

    Al thought about it deeply — I know, I was there. He made a decision about what needed to be done. He went home and did it cleanly and without hullabaloo. Monday morning quarterbacking the whole thing would be just silly self-indulgence.

  • Nancy

    This is a tough one, both to read & to try to weigh mentally – altho not as tough as it must have been to carry out. It’s possible the dog would have done better with another owner, one who didn’t have any other pets & could spare the time to work with him; but did Al have the luxury of finding such a person, and where he lives, does he have the luxury of a no-kill shelter? A lot of places don’t, and hauling the dog 300+ miles to the nearest one is problematic. As Al & Thug Ma both point out, people are more directly involved in “the country” in dealing with hard issues themselves, because they must. I have friends who are farmers, and they generally call out the vet only when their animals’ situations are beyond their (usually considerable) expertise. I know at least one who had to put down a horse, and did the same as Al did: with a gun, and by herself. Finally, Al has/had an obligation to protect the other animals; they also have rights to consideration for their lives & safety.

    For me, it would be impossible, because of where I live & because I don’t have the mental/emotional ability to do it, but it was taken care of ‘humanely’ and seems to me with the best of judgement. I’ve read Al’s other blogs about his animals, and he comes across as a knowledgeable & kind person, if not as sentimental & emotionally charged about it as I am.

    It was a horribly hard call, & I’m sure Al didn’t go whooping out joyfully to do it. If it were me, I’d have gone back & had a fifth of booze, & not just coffee. He did what he had to.

  • RogerMDillion

    Shouldn’t the title of the post read “I Killed a Family Member Today”, which is what you talk about doing in the first paragraph?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Regarding #42, what you say sounds good in the abstract, but with any of the solutions you suggest, when that dog ultimately attacks a person or even worse, a child, Al would have been or at least felt himself to be somewhat morally responsible for not dealing with the problem when he was in control rather than passing it on to someone else. He did the responsible thing. The solutions you suggest seem humane, but ultimately are probably worse for all concerned.

    Dave

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Re comment 49: Good point, Roger. I didn’t think about it your way. I was trying to be specific about what I did in the title, but “I shot a family member today” does not convey the critical point that I killed the family member.

    I have thus amended the title to “I shot a family member to death today.” Does this satisfy your objection?

  • http://www.blogcritics.com T A Dodger

    Al,
    Yes, I am a vegetarian, but I’m not a vegan, so you can certainly say that I should be doing more.

    I’m sorry if my second comment was too abrasive. I thought you were bragging that you could kill a pet without feeling and I was definitely shocked. It seems now like what you’re saying is that you were relieved that you didn’t break down over doing what you had to do… and that’s more understandable. Personally, though, I could never kill a pet without feeling absolutely devistated and I don’t think I’d want to be able to do that.

    That said, you still haven’t responded to my original comment. It is not true that your only options were 1) kill the dog 2) send the dog to an animal shelter where it would be killed by someone else or 3) chain him up for the rest of his life.

    You could have given him to a rescue organization or you could have looked for a new owner yourself.

    When I left for college I had to give away my dog because my parents would not take her. She was very sweet to members of the family, but she would attack other dogs and she was not good around children. I made sure she went to a new home that did not have any dogs or children and that her new owners knew about her behavior issues. I did not shoot her in the head.

    In the interests of clarification: I am not a vegetarian because I oppose killing animals. I am a vegetarian because I oppose factory farming both from an ecological and an animal treatment standpoint. I don’t oppose hunting, and would be willing to eat meat if only I could hunt it myself, but I don’t have the stomach.
    Again, I apologize if my statement before seemed like a personal attack. I don’t think you’re a terrible person for killing your dog if you felt like that was what you had to do. I just disagree that it was what you had to do and I hope that if a similar situation comes up in the future you’ll consider other options.

    Sincerely,
    Andra

  • Armus

    LegendaryMonkey:

    It’s hard, over the internet, to visualize someone who apparently has the ability to use the written word, and yet is so clearly lacking in common sense.

    The world is in the sorry state it is today because all too many people, such as yourself, prefer to pass off the hard necessary decisions and actions onto someone else’s shoulders.

    Al’s dog, Al’s choice and Al’s responsibility.

    By all means, if you think it wise, try beating on Al with your stick.

    If Al puts a bullet or two into your chest or head no one will be surprised or saddened.

  • Bennett

    Good job Al, you did the right thing.

    I have a small farm and we raise our own beef and chickens. Unlike getting your meat from a supermarket, raising it yourself means that you have to wear the hat of executioner.

    So you do the killing in the most humane way you can, with as much reverence for life as possible.

    When the egg laying chickens hatch eggs, half are roosters. What do you do with the roosters? Take ‘em to the pound?

    Believe me, the deaths of our beef cows and roasting chickens are hundreds of times “more humane” than anything experienced by the animals that end up on the table of “normal” people.

    My beef cows get a pile of fresh corn to munch on, and when they look up at me for the last time, a 30-30 bullet takes them out of the world as we know it.

    No standing in a shitty feed lot outside of a slaughter house for a week, waiting for their turn. Same goes for sending a dangerous dog to the shelter. It’s a cop out. The dog needs to be put down, so do it!

    I take responsibility to kill cleanly, quickly, and without the animal suffering. If you buy your meat in the supermarket, you have absolutely nothing to say to me, or to Al, about the humane treatment of animals.

    Again, good job Al.

  • http://www.blogcritics.com TA Dodger

    Dave,
    Many dogs are animal-aggressive but can do fine in families where there are no dogs (or children, since many dogs seem to view children as animals, not people).
    Ultimately, of course, it is and was Al’s judgement call; he’s the only one who really knew Jack. I just wanted to put up some links to organizations that could have been helpful or could be helpful in similar situations in the future. I just want people to know that there are rescue organizations out there for all breeds of dogs, they’re easy to find, and no one should ever feel like their only options are killing a dog they can’t keep or sending that dog to the pound.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Easy there, Armus. The beloved Monkey’s a little emotionally blindered on this issue, it seems, but we don’t shoot monkeys, we love them.

    I loved Jack too, but he was just too dangerous. However, if Alisha feels the need to take a stick to me, she’s an old friend and I’m sure that it would also be with love, and I would probably accept that.

  • http://www.blogcritics.com T A Dodger

    If you buy your meat in the supermarket, you have absolutely nothing to say to me, or to Al, about the humane treatment of animals.

    Actually, I completely agree with you. We have to kill animals to get meat, and I don’t have any problem with that. I have a problem with making animals’ lives miserable before killing them, killing them inhumanely, and then buying the meat all clean and packaged so we don’t have to face the fact that something had to die to get food on our tables.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Actually, down here in Texas we do shoot monkeys. They’ve got a real problem with them down in the Rio Grande valley.

    Dave

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Andra, no need to apologize. I know that I’m addressing some emotional hot button issues, and your comments weren’t really all that harsh.

    I also don’t mean to evade anything. It is definitely possible that I could have scouted around enough to perhaps find an acceptable home. It just wasn’t a good idea. I knew him well, and he was rapidly becoming a dangerous animal as he matured. He needed to be put down.

    Also, yes, I was not bragging about not having strong feelings. Killing the dog doesn’t make me a hero to walk around with my chest puffed out in pride. It just means that I can make a tough adult decision without being overly tore up over it. It’s good to know I can do that if I need to.

  • RogerMDillion

    Al,

    “Object” is too strong a word. I just thought the title could have been more accurate and compelling, which you apprantly agreed with because I doubt you changed it to satisfy little ol’ me.

    I enjoyed the honest peek inside the event. Seems like a story you could sell somewhere. Not entirely sure how I feel about it, though. It’s easy for me to form an opinion half a country away, but I have to wonder if there wasn’t an option between death and the chain. Not saying there was.

    I am guessing this activity is legal in your neck of the woods since you have laid out for all to see. Is your word good enough if some authority asked? That could be a slippery slope.

  • KYS

    Yikes! Don’t like to hear about shooting dogs….but what to do when they don’t play well with other dogs or people? That won’t work. But shoot him? Well, actually there are a couple other options….

    1) Sounds like you already have a pack going on at your house, and you will have to face an adjustment whenever you allow a new member. Learn training techniques that will help you manage them. Don’t have the time? Don’t allow new pack members.

    2) Find a rescue to take in any dog that doesn’t fit into your situation. They may be able to rehabilitate or place the dog in a more appropriate home.

    Doesn’t sound like the dog suffered, and I’m glad for that. But next time consider that somebody else might be qualified to give the dog a chance…

  • Bennett

    T A Dodger – “I have a problem with making animals’ lives miserable before killing them, killing them inhumanely, and then buying the meat all clean and packaged…”

    Absolutely right! I don’t glory in the killing, it’s a heavy duty actually, but I do it because I know how commercial poultry and beef is treated.

    Naming your cows, and then including them in whatever informal “grace” crosses your mind, is not a bad way to live. Right now, we’re remembering “Billy”. He was a very good steer! Friendly and happy, he roamed and munched for two very good cow years.

  • http://freewayjam.blogspot.com uao

    First, I’ll second Lono’s comment and say that this was a good piece of writing, Al.

    I admit I was torn two ways when reading it, because half of me kept trying to think of alternative actions, some of which have been suggested.

    But in the end, I draw the conclusion that Al handled this in a sensible way. He’s right about preferring to do it himself then letting the vet do it; we really should take responsibility for our decisions, and not proxy off the unpleasant ones, like so many do in so many routine ways.

    My chief concern would’ve been bungling the job. I would’ve been too afraid I’d not get a clean shot, and the dog would suffer. WHich is why I would’ve probably gone to the vet in the end. But it seems that this particular task was handled cleanly and humanely.

    There is nothing in this story that should relate it to Terry Shiavo, or fetuses, or gays, or anything else political.

    The story here is about a man and a dog.

    At any rate, I know you didn’t like doing what you had to do, but I respect what you did, and appreciate your candor in sharing it. I still don’t know what I would do, but I’ve been a city rat all my life and have no place for dogs, much as I love them, or woods out back or a shotgun.

    But farmers have had to shoot sick, injured, and vicious animals forever; it goes with the turf. Most farmers I know are also love and know their animals on a profound level. So I know it wasn’t something that wasn’t done thoughtlessly. The existence of this post proves that.

    I agree with RogerMDillion when he says you could probably sell a story like this. If you haven’t already, you might want to get a copy of Writers Market, and see which market might take it. Readers Digest comes to mind (seriously) or similar themed market. Why not?

  • http://freewayjam.blogspot.com uao

    I didn’t mean the double “wasn’t” near the end, just one. Ever the lousy typist.

  • Jewels

    Anthony Grande, at one point I thought you to be the one of the brightest of lights, but perhaps you are only the most robotized and brainwashed. So Sorry dear laddie, but there are other interests and valuable issues to target our minds towards. The single minded suffer so…

    >>You know metaphorically the title of this thread coud be the title of a thread written by a woman who had an abortion today.<<

    As I have said, not everything is about abortion sweet Anthony.

  • Jewels

    How outstanding; I have gone through a very similar situation. Back to my original reason to commenting to this posting…I had to have a dog put down once also; she had grown increasingly agressive no matter how much training I gave her and socialisation, she kept gravitating towards rogue. She was part Pit Bull, and before anyone screams “murdering pooches”, there are a large number that are absolutely great companions. They do have the propensity to take their “jobs” very seriously. Pits are worker dogs as are sheep dogs, shepherds and the like. Border collies, fascinating dog characters, and must have a job to do or they will drive you crazy; it is in breeding of the dogs that you get their traits. With Pit or bulldog crosses what you find is an overwhelming desire to protect and a serious single-mindedness in their devotion to usually one person. That person becomes their mission and their target to protect.

    The dog I had to put down was as loving a being as you could find; towards me; to anyone or anything else she was not tolerant. After a while even family members had issues with ‘Patches’ and I put her down.

    Having horses most of my life I understand completely about having to shoot an animal to put it out of its misery but I can say I don’t think I could have put Patches down like one of the horses we had with extreme colic. Dogs are different somehow, but yet, Al it is fitting you are the one to put the dog down; you were the animal’s “God” and he probably accepted it well.

    Better he died from you than a stranger with the way dogs of that type seem to think.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Jewels, UAO, Bennett, all, thank you for your kind words.

    Roger, I didn’t change the title out of a personal desire to win your favor, but rather because I thought you had a good point. I should not shrink from stating right up front exactly what I did.

    As to legality, I know of no relevant legal restrictions. Discharging firearms in the city might be problematic, but our woods is the place to shoot guns. Plus, even our silly prosecutor wouldn’t be trying to persecute a farmboy for putting down a dangerous dog.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Jewels, I’m God to these animals, but I don’t know that Jack took getting shot better coming from me, simply in that he didn’t know it was coming. He was gone pretty much literally within the blink of an eye.

    If there happens to be a God over us, I only pray that it chooses to snatch me away as quick and clean as Jack got it when the time comes.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Great comment in #33, Thugs Ma. Very true.

  • Jewels

    Al, you did the right thing; with a rogue dog it will capitulate and escalate. I have had so many dogs, cats and horses I cannot count. When they are or go rogue; you have to make that decision. Do the right thing for the animal. You did it.

    Me being an oftentimes ‘rogue’ individual, I feel the same way you do -when my time comes, let it be quick –

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Comment #54:

    I’d have a very hard time, living on a farm. I’m not sure I have the “intestinal fortitude” to do what farmers must do, as a matter of business and livelihood.

    Thankfully, I’m a suburb-dweller, and I can therefore avoid such choices…

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    I second RJ in praising the Thug’s Ma for the literary merits of comment 33, particularly the “there was a time” part.

  • http://www.blogcritics.com T A Dodger

    The only problem I had with Thug Ma’s comment was this
    But really it comes down to a value judgement regarding whether the dog is worth such an investment in time to find that perfect owner willing to take on an uncivil mutt

    I think if you’re unwilling to go the trouble of finding your dog a new home when you can’t care for her anymore, you just shouldn’t be a pet owner. I understand that in this case Al felt that it would be unwise to give Jack to someone else because he believed Jack would continue to be violent, but if he’d shot Jack because he just couldn’t be bothered to look for a new home that would be reprehensible. Like my mom told me when I got my first puppy “A dog is a BIG responsibility”.

  • http://www.blogcritics.com T A Dodger

    correction:
    couldn’t be bothered to look for a new home, that would be reprehensible

    Don’t you hate when leaving out a comma totally changes the meaning of a sentence?

  • Eric Olsen

    this is a very well-written, powerful, emotionally true story that clearly made me and other suburban/urban people very uncomfortable. Most of us don’t want to even realize that there ARE real, fundamental issues that divide urban/suburban and rural people, but clearly there are, especially involving the ethics of personal responsbility. Life and death are still very messy things

  • Thug’s Ma

    Re: TA Dodger’s comments in #73.

    It 100 percent IS a value judgement about whether a dog is worth the investment of time and effort to search out that perfect loving homeowner.

    One man’s vicious mutt is another man’s treasure.

    What exactly would have been the right thing to do in your view? How far would Al have had to go to find an owner before he could actually shoot the dog with clear conscience?

    If Al had put a $30 ad in the paper and posted xerox “vicious pet wants loving home” posters at vet facilities, would that have been enough? Would that have cleared the way to killing the dog. There’s also the knowledge that no one would take this dog. And you KNOW in clear conscience you couldn’t let anyone else have him.

    I say, avoid the b.s. and shoot the dog. Be done with it. If that makes me reprehensible, OK. I think it makes me a pragmatist.

    It is a value judgement also based on notions of supply and demand.

    There are 246 California condors in the world. 246. If for some reason (this is impossible, but OK, it’s an example), I came into possession of a condor and could no longer keep it, you can bet your Buster Browns I’d go to the ends of the earth to find that condor a new home. Why, because it’s an endangered condor. Because there are 246. Because I personally value it.

    On the other hand, there are estimated 30,000,000 free roaming cats in the U.S. — so you know free roaming dogs are in similar numbers.

    Millions. And this uncivil mutt that temporarily took up space at Al’s house, was one of them. Jack was mean and shitty to the other dogs. Jack didn’t place nice with other people.

    Value of the dog = miniscule.

    There is no rule that say a pet has to live out its full lifetime. Like one commenter said, his cow had a good two cow years before he caught a 30-30 slug to the head and became beef stew. Al’s dog had a good several months.

    And on a similar but related note, Americans are notorious for devalueing the popular flavor of the day when it comes to animal breeds. “101 Dalmations” is the latest flick, everyone wants a dalmation. Pit bulls go through the latest craze — everyone wants a pitbull, without knowing or caring that these dogs have idiosyncratic tendencies that don’t make them good pets. It’s unfortunate for the dogs that fall through the cracks, and hence the rise in pit bull rescue facilities.

    I’m still unmoved regarding the value judgement. If someone values a pitbull because they feel sorry for it and want to devote the next 15 years of their life to a mean dog, OK for them. That’s their value of the dog.

    But my value of the dog is low. And a bullet to the head is the best thing to do.

  • http://www.blogcritics.com T A Dodger

    I have said that if Al thought the dog was a danger to other people, he did the right thing. If a dog is bad with other dogs but is not a danger to humans, and you kill it just because you’re too lazy to look for another home, then that’s reprehensible. The point of my post wasn’t to comment on Al’s particular situation, it was to say that if you don’t think a dog is worth effort, if you don’t value dogs, then you just shouldn’t be a dog-owner.

    How far would Al have had to go to find an owner before he could actually shoot the dog with clear conscience?
    Of course it’s impossible to say how much effort would be sufficient in every situation, but i’m perfectly comfortable saying that ZERO effort is insufficient.

    Value of the dog = miniscule.
    If dogs have no value to you, don’t take responsability for a dog in the first place. Give to a rescue organiztion instead. I posted several links above to organizations that would have taken in a dog of Jack’s physical description. That took very little effort on my part.

    There is no rule that say a pet has to live out its full lifetime.
    That’s true, but I’m sure you can appreciate the difference between saying: “This dog is viscious / has a painful fatal disease, I guess I have to kill it” and “This dog doesn’t get along with my other dog / messes in the house / chews up the furniture and I just can’t be fussed to get off my ass and look for a new owner… I guess I’ll shoot it.” One of these situations involves taking personal responsability for your animals, which is arguably what Al did, and the other involves denying responsibility.

    And on a similar but related note, Americans are notorious for devalueing the popular flavor of the day when it comes to animal breeds…It’s unfortunate for the dogs that fall through the cracks, and hence the rise in pit bull rescue facilities.
    I completely agree.

    But my value of the dog is low.
    Then don’t get a dog

    And a bullet to the head is the best thing to do.
    I’m still not seeing why, if the dog is not viscious with people, giving the dog to someone else isn’t the best option.

  • http://www.suddennothing.net LegendaryMonkey

    Let me state a couple of things about me, since many assumptions were made in comments here:

    Yes, I have been around and attempted to stop dogfights. As stated earlier, I was raised with dogs (and many other animals), and did spend some time living on farms. I have two lovely scars, one on my arm and one on my left leg, from dog bites. It happens. I have another on my chin from where an angry dog barreled into me and knocked me down face first into some rocks before my father pulled – yes, pulled – it back off me.

    We had a lot of dogs. And my father mistreated a lot of them. I am admittedly very sensitive to this topic. I think beating a dog with a stick is over the top in any situation, and if you are reduced to that circumstance, you need to remove the animal from your home immediately. Not hang around, get it fixed, leave it chained up, etc. You either get the dog to someone who specializes in dogs with such problems or you have it put down.

    The reason why I am NOT in favor of anyone doing what Al did – shooting the dog yourself – because, god knows, accidents happen. People miss. No one is perfect. I think it is much more humane, if an animal must be put down, to do it through a vet. An expert. Hold the animal while it is done. Love the animal. But don’t take the chance that you’ll miss and cause the animal pain… or that you’ll miss and the animal will attack you. And even when I jump Al’s shit, I’d rather have him around than a dog. I jump his shit because we’re friends and I am honest with him, as I expect him to be with me.

    If Al had put a $30 ad in the paper and posted xerox “vicious pet wants loving home” posters at vet facilities, would that have been enough? Would that have cleared the way to killing the dog. There’s also the knowledge that no one would take this dog. And you KNOW in clear conscience you couldn’t let anyone else have him.

    No wonder you and Al are pals… you both have this extremist view in arguing. We ALL know Al hangs around on the Internet, and there are a ton of rescue services who might have been happy to come and get the dog, though he was vicious with other dogs. There was nothing in the post to indicate that he was violent with people – just other dogs. Some animals are simply like that. Territorial. They don’t need to be around other pets, because they are violent or otherwise ill-behaved, but if you put them in an environment with no other animals, they’re fine.

    So why couldn’t Al have spent 5 minutes googling such a service in his area and picked up the phone?

    Oh, I’m sorry. I guess that doesn’t fall in line with you guys’ idea of taking responsibility.

    Me, I think taking responsibility begins at the moment you allow an animal into your home, and part of that responsibility is knowing whether or not you can provide the environment that animal needs. If you can’t, then it is your responsibility – because you accepted it – to at least try to find such an environment.

    It certainly doesn’t hurt. And it would have taken Al less time than it took him to drive out and buy the chain. So I guess we just have different ideas of responsibility. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

    But I DO take issue with people saying that anyone who disagrees about what happened must obviously be some kind of weak pussy punk, because they wouldn’t have shot the dog themselves. Because I disagree with the course of events, I have to be a vegan? Because I don’t agree and would not have done the same, I’m somehow not taking responsibility? I think that’s a bullshit argument and utterly laughable, from both commenters, Al himself, and the cavalry he called in to back him up.

    It is really very tiresome.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    I’m laughing at the idea that this story is some allegory about the difference between rural and suburban/urban life. Or that it shows some manly form of taking responsibility that we all should emulate. Puh-leeze.

    Al admits that the other dogs didn’t want this dog around. Then this dog started attacking the other dogs, not once, but several times. Did Al decide that maybe this new dog wasn’t a good fit for his home? No.

    Maybe he just needs his balls removed. So Al took him to the vet to have him neutered. If this is really about farm people being ready to take on responsibility that the rest of us aren’t, why not castrate him yourself? Isn’t that how they do it on the farm? Why pay to have a third party do it when a handy-dandy farm implement will do? Too squeamish, Al?

    When that didn’t work, Al still didn’t try to find a suitable home for the dog. He decided that the dog was “too dangerous to live,” in spite of the fact that he hadn’t attacked a human being. The false dilemma was supposedly between tieing the dog to a tree for life or shooting it in the head.

    Um, bullshit. Lots of dogs can’t get along with other dogs but are perfectly safe and friendly around humans. This dog might have been taken in by another family. The responsible thing — since Al chose to adopt a dog his other dogs didn’t like having around in the first place — would have been to at least try to find the dog another home.

  • http://somethingaboutchelsea.blogspot.com Chelsea Snyder

    Oh Christ, bhw, are you one of those crazy ladies with a million dogs and cats in your house? Didn’t I see you on Oprah … ?

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Well, I am crazy, but I have only one dog, two kids, and one husband in the house.

    The insanity comes out in different ways.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    firing a gun is empowering, you know.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    And so MANLY.

  • Eric Olsen

    this entire story from beginning to end is so alien to me that there is no aspect of it I can directly relate to: I’ve never had more than one dog at a time, have never had a dog that didn’t stay in the house other than to “go out,” have never lived on a farm, have never shot a gun at a living thing, haven’t fired a gun period in about 25 years, don’t own a gun, don’t have wild and semi-wild animals roaming around the property in packs, etc – so I have no idea what I would have done under the circumstances.

    What I said was the story was well -conveyed and as such raises the issues I said it raises, and that Al conveyed what he did and why he did it well and compellingly.

    And it turned out that the dog WAS becoming aggressive toward humans.

    Was it the “right” decision? I don’t know, but it was a defensible action as described in the story.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    I’m laughing at the idea that this story is some allegory about the difference between rural and suburban/urban life.

    But it is. Not intentionally, BHW, but it is.

    Because suburban/urban America is disconnected from what is a basic fact of life in rural America: animals are killed for practical purposes. Children who breed animals themselves have no qualms about eating the animals they’ve bred. Chickens are not named. That’s just the way it is — the way it’s been for thousands of years.

    Do I think that animals should be treated humanely while they live? I do. And I think we should bear in mind that another living creature gave its life to nourish us. I think all of that is true. But I think it from the perspective of somebody living in one of the largest metropolises in America.

    But I also was born in western Kentucky so I understand that point of view too. There’s a reason that vegetarianism is EXTREMELY rare in farm country.

    Are we in urban/suburban America that naive? Do suburban vegetarians, for example, ever consider the number of animals that are killed every year by the machinery that harvests wheat and soy? (That number is in the millions.) No matter what you eat, animals died for it.

    And ending a vicious dog’s life quickly and painlessly, which is what Al did, is the humane thing to do. Despite the fact that was not violent toward a human being — a dog that is that violent toward another dog cannot be trusted around humans. That, too, is simply a fact of life that rural people understand but that often eludes the rest of us.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Well then, let’s ask Al how many other animals he’s killed for food or out of necessity in his 42 years of farm life. Just to put his rural cred to the test.

    Oh, wait, I think he already answered:

    “I’d never purposely killed anything bigger than a bug, other than maybe a few fish.”

    Doesn’t exactly sound like the picture of rural life you’re trying to paint.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Eric, the dog wasn’t becoming a danger to humans:

    “Jack had been rough with other dogs, but had never in my knowledge so much as looked cross ways at a human.”

    The supposition is that he would eventually become aggressive toward humans, but that’s not a given. Taken out of the situation where he was around other dogs all day, he might just have stayed friendly and obedient around people.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    Taken out of the situation where he was around other dogs all day, he might just have stayed friendly and obedient around people.

    “Might have.” What if he didn’t? A dog that took three people to subdue when attacking another dog? That’s not a chance worth taking.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    That’s because Al allowed the situation to escalate. Had the dog been removed from the home after the first incident, the whole problem could have been solved without any dogs being hurt or killed.

    I think that’s what’s bugging me. People are interpreting this story as an example of how to be responsible, and all I see is irresponsibility.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    I disagree there, too, BHW. That first incident had Al breaking a walking stick over the dog’s back (twice) and it STILL not backing off.

    Indeed, if there’s irresponsibility there it’s in that he didn’t put the dog down after the first incident.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Then we’ll have to agree to disagree. I think that the first incident shows the dog should have been removed, but not killed, immediately.

  • http://www.blogcritics.com T A Dodger

    to bhw and Michael J. West,
    I think we just can’t tell over the internet whether the dog was human-agressive or not, only Al was there and knows the dog’s real personality.

    I agreet with bhw, though, that being aggressive with dogs does not mean that a dog is aggressive towards people.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    I agreet with bhw, though, that being aggressive with dogs does not mean that a dog is aggressive towards people.

    I agree with that too, in theory. But if it IS aggressive with dogs — and savagely aggressive, from all indications — are you really going to risk having the dog around your family? Especially if you have children?

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    I wouldn’t, Michael, but someone else who doesn’t have children might.

  • MCH

    Re comment #84;

    E.O., another option could’ve been to kick the dog to death.

  • http://www.blogcritics,com T A Dodger

    if it IS aggressive with dogs — and savagely aggressive from all indications — are you really going to risk having the dog around your family?

    Honestly, it would probably depend on a lot of factors: the dog’s usual personality, the context of the behavior, whether I had small children, whether I could keep the dog in a fenced yard etc. I would also consider these factors before passing the dog on to any other owners.

    Like I said in the first part of my comment: I didn’t know Jack and (with the exception of Thurs Ma) niether did anyone else on this thread, so the only person who had the information necessary to make the call was Al. I can’t sit at my keyboard and say that a specific dog I’ve never met would never have hurt a person. I can only say that, as a general statement, most dog-aggressive dogs are not aggressive towards humans, and I don’t think dog-aggressiveness alone is a good enough reason to put a dog down.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    I wouldn’t, Michael, but someone else who doesn’t have children might.

    We’re actually getting somewhere to close to agreement, BHW. Al simply went a step further than “I won’t have this dog around my family” to “I won’t have this dog around other living creatures, period.” The distinction is not as great as it seems, and not an immoral or irresponsible one. In my opinion.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    Like I said in the first part of my comment: I didn’t know Jack and (with the exception of Thurs Ma) niether did anyone else on this thread, so the only person who had the information necessary to make the call was Al.

    This is absolutely true, TA Dodger, and it makes all of us here a little silly for arguing the point. Al was the only person who had the information necessary to make the call. So the rest of us have no place arguing whether he did or didn’t make the right call.

    If I didn’t say so before, Al, let me add my voice to those who applauded your writing here. I am impressed.

  • Eric Olsen

    “Additionally, later this evening the neighbor boy told us that Jack had been biting at his ankles recently as he rode his quad down the lane. This was the only time I heard of aggression with a human, and it reconfirms my calculation that he was going to become a danger to humans. However, I only heard this a few hours after I had already put the dog down, so it didn’t enter into my reasoning.”

    it appears Al’s assumptions and concerns about future aggressive behavior toward humans were in fact coming into reality, although he honestly admits he didn’t know this at the time of the execution

  • Eric Olsen

    I did kick a dog to death 25 years ago when attacked silently from behind while jogging – one kick, purely reactive and defensive, but I still felt awful about it

  • http://www.magicjunk.com/radio Mark Sahm

    One kick killed the dog? You must have some strong kung-fu, EO!

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    Slate had a really interesting recently about how assumptions about how animals think can lead to negative, and sometimes, drastic consequences.

  • http://www.suddennothing.net LegendaryMonkey

    I think that’s what’s bugging me. People are interpreting this story as an example of how to be responsible, and all I see is irresponsibility.

    Me too, bhw… me too.

  • RogerMDillion

    “Roger, I didn’t change the title out of a personal desire to win your favor, but rather because I thought you had a good point.”

    I believe that is what I said in my comment.

    My question about the legality of it is how often are you allowed to do this without drawing someone’s attention? If you killed another dog tomorrow or two more within a month, would anyone wonder what was happening down at Al’s place? I’m not saying they should, just trying to understand.

    There’s a great docuemntary called “Brother’s Keeper” where a family of four brothers on a farm, I want to say in upstate NY, but can’t swear to it, understandably and justifiably killed one of their own. Rent it.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Jack had not been violent with humans, but he was extremely bad with the other dogs and getting worse as he physically matured. It seemed likely only a matter of time before he went off on some human. It was absolutely not worth the risk.

    Miss Monkey is just plain being silly to say that “beating a dog with a stick is over the top in any situation.” The dog was in kill mode. At that, breaking the staff in two didn’t even get his attention. Breaking it again didn’t cause him to look up from his task.

    I did not simply allow the situation to escalate. I had the dog fixed, which would usually take a male dog down a notch or two. It did, for a minute, but the vet also pulled out his last baby teeth, so he was judged at probably right at a year. He was still growing, and becoming more aggressive.

    As per BHW’s moniker, bitch has words, but she has no sense or logic. She’s pissy with me, and looking for digs on me. I make no special claim to machismo, and we buy most of our meat at the store like anyone else. We had our own little slaughterhouse out at Grandpa Helmuth’s growing up, so I was certainly brought up with it. I was just never the one to actually kill the animals. And I’ve certainly plucked and gutted plenty of chickens and a few odd squirrels and rabbits.

    Of course the bitch what has word was just being bitchy about the neutering thing. I don’t have the expertise to be doing surgery on the animals. That’s just facetiousness.

    I do, however, have the minimal expertise with guns to cleanly kill a chained up dog at close range. The monkey need not be concerned with that.

    The buck stops here. I didn’t go googling for animal rescue shelters not out of laziness, but out of my sense of responsibility. This dog needed to be put down. I did so.

    There are a lot of strays wandering the countryside- and the city streets for that matter. Even besides an aggressive animal like this one, cleanly killing a stray is an act of mercy to that animal- not abuse.

    Every animal has to die eventually. A clean shot from me for this stray pit was a much better deal than starving or being diseased or tore up by a coyote in the woods.

    And I ask again of BHW and the Monkey, why is it bad to put down a dog? Why shold we be jumping through such hoops to avoid it?

  • http://www.blogcritics.com T A Dodger

    A clean shot from me for this stray pit was a much better deal than starving or being diseased or tore up by a coyote in the woods.

    As of the title, Jack was a dog you considered “a family member,” now he’s some stray pit. Interesting. It seems like maybe you are trying to distance yourself from your responsability after all.

    Also, you seem to be creating a lot of false dilemnas:
    “I had to kill the dog or chain him up for life…” No. There were other options. They have been discussed.
    “I had to kill the stray, or he would be eaten by a coyote and died a horrible death.” No. There are other options there too, and this dog wasn’t even a stray.

    Andra,
    Fence-Sitter Extrodinaire
    Defender of Fair Play

  • http://www.suddennothing.net LegendaryMonkey

    I don’t see it as jumping through hoops.

    You spent money to have a dog — that didn’t get along with your other dogs, especially your favorite, which I would think is first priority — to get him fixed, but you couldn’t spend five of your blogging minutes Googling and make one phone call to see if someone would take him? Looks like we have different definitions for hoops AND responsibility.

    But hey, if you want to stop the discussion, I shall respectfully withdraw.

  • MCH

    Out here in Montana they call it “rolling him.”

    A rancher buddy of mine, after his herd dog bit someone for the second time, got his rifle, took the dog out to somewhere on the property, and when he came back alone said, “I had to roll him.”

    IE; the dog is running along, a rifle shot, and the animals rolls to a stop.

    I’m not saying I advocate this – just relating the facts. His viewpoint was simple: he would not have a dog who attacked folks.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Andra, Jack came in as a stray- as did the Fugitive five years ago. We had grown quite fond of this dog, naming him and taking care of him. We tried to integrate him into the family, but he was simply not going to accept the continued existence of the other dogs.

    It’s possible that I could have done something other than shoot him, but that would have amounted to simply refusing to do what I knew needed done. It would have been just passing the buck.

  • Thugs Ma

    Call it laziness if you will — I call it pragmatism — but I would not seek out a new home for this mutt based on personal value judgements. The dog was NOT worth the time and effort to find a home. I’m speaking for me, not for Al.

    There was no huge emotional connection with this dog, unlike some beloved pet you could no longer keep for whatever reason. The dog wasn’t financially valuable. It didn’t contribute that much to the family. It was perceived as a threat to other dogs and people.

    In my family, we have old John, a bluetick that can tree many a coon. That makes him valuable. But John can’t be trusted completely around strangers, a fact I let Al know about when he considered petting him.

    So why do we make allowances for Old John? He can tree coons with a vengeance, which to my father is very valuable indeed. John earns his keep.

    Could somebody have taken Jack on? Maybe. Would it have been a perfect addition to some other owner? Maybe. Was Al going to find out? No. He just wasn’t going to pass it on to somebody else.

    He could have kept the dog on a chain, but that is just something Al wouldn’t do. And the dynamics of his doggie world meant that the dogs run loose together. The dog didn’t fit in, and he didn’t fit in with the neighbors either.

    Al could have gone through all kinds of hoops to find this dog a home. But he would have failed. There are too many good-natured dogs out there to want one that is ill-tempered. And I doubt you’ll find any dog experts in the county capable of handling it.

    There are a million dogs wandering loose on the country side (and ones that would make much better pets) to be put consideration into one that is a lousy pet.

    As far as people who spend time saving hard-to-manage dogs, well, good for them. It’s personally not my bag, and I have a tendency to be skeptical of it. A dog that is hard to manage or potentially dangerous has no place with me. I would not shove it off on other people, hoping against hope they have the training and sense to deal with it.

    Nope. So call it convenience, laziness, pragmatism. The dog was done for.

  • roger

    ugh. not this again. first emily yoffee starts a sh–storm in the slate fray, then thugmama adds fuel to the fire, and now al has to go and shoot a dog. al, i really don’t know what the hell is going on y’alls farms. pets are getting killed left and right in indiana.

    look, millions of stray dogs and al’s supposed to pawn a rogue dog onto some rescue group? a mainstream one would have no choice but to put a vicious dog down and a no-kill group would be wasting its resources when there are more strays available to rehabilitate.

    regardless of the rural/suburban/macho/pussy/gun-toting/vegan/hoosier/wildcat etc etc divide, it seems like a pretty clear cut case here. poor Jack is justifiably one more life toward nirvana while al’s back to his coffee.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Did I mention that I have on occasion sat in my back yard and shot stray/wild dogs with a hunting rifle? Not a problem anymore now that the cougars are here, of course, but a few years ago the packs of stray dogs in our area were so out of control and dangerous that something had to be done.

    Last week a cougar killed the last dog pack in the area – it was a truly bizarre auditory experience. You could hear that bizarre keening noise cougars make followed by barking and yelping and then more keening and a little less barking and yelping and then more cougar noise and even less dog noise, and then silence.

    Now the cougars have taken over the coyotes hunting ground, so they’re wandering up to the house and needing to be shot as well. I figure the next visitors will be the cougars themselves, so I’m keeping my 30-06 and a clip by the bakc door at all times now.

    And for all of this ‘fun’ I have to thank the idiots at the Texas Dept of Highways for building SH130 right through the last major untouched cougar habitats in the area and driving them out into neighborhoods and farmland, including one black cougar which is now living in the thicket behind the local middle school snacking on pet cats and dogs.

    Dave

  • MCH

    Nalle, it doesn’t surprise me you’re the kind of person who sits in your backyard and shoots stray/wild dogs with a hunting rifle.

    Here in Montana, you wouldn’t make a pimple on a sportsman’s rear end.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Yep, MCH. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like his chickens, geese and pets killed and eaten by packs of wild dogs. Damn, I’m so evil.

    Dave

  • MCH

    Too lazy to build a fence?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    We have a fence, MCH. It was designed to keep cows out, not dogs and feral pigs and cougars. Do you know how much it would cost to put up a 8ft chainlink fence with the bottom buried at least 2 feet around 5 acres of land? There goes the addition we’re planning.

    Dave

  • The duke

    When you live on a farm a .22 will do. However I’ve always used the trusty 12 gauge.

    A 12 gauge is also handy for shooting ferral cats out of trees, rabid raccoon’s standing in the middle of your yard hissing (in broad daylight). Foxes raiding the coup, weasels, the occasional ground hog… whatever.

    Oh and stray violent dogs. Thomas Jefferson wanted to ban dogs from America. Wild dogs are quite a problem in many areas. Wild dogs attack deer, your cows, sheep, dogs… shooting them is a must. Not capturing them in a hav-a-hart trap and carting them off to the vet for an injection.

    We kill chickens too, wringing their necks is the quickest least bloody way. Pick them up, “crack the whip” with one swift practiced movement – Gut, pluck and boil… oohh uuuggghhh. I live on a farm. Good gravy! I also grow wheat, and corn and soybeans… and kill deer who are absolutely out of control and will eat you out of house and home. I kill field mice.

    That said, I will never use a .22. I find it a bit small, and I’ve seen “executions” go badly with small calibers. But some folks are absolute artists with a .22, I’m not. I shot a cat once who was raiding my rabbit pens and the bullet (a hyper velocity mind you) riccocheted off of the cat’s cheekbone. I had to get my 12 gauge and finish the task properly.

    Feel bad for the little critter? Don’t, it’s part of living off of the land. Oh, and I crab too… and boil the crabs! Fillet fish, butcher hogs and lambs….. come on! Get off of Al’s case, it’s part of managing the business of farming.

    But Al, I stopped taking in strays years ago. I know my neighbors and what kind of dogs they have. Any drop off is easily recognized and dealt with quickly, including pit bulls. Which for some reason get dropped off moreso than other breeds. It’s been 6 months or so since the last stray wandered in. But I don’t tolerate it.

    Hey is there a farm blog out there?

    L8tr.

  • kittygogo

    Al, you just wrote about this same topic. What is your point with continuing to write about this topic?

    Great, you can emotionally disconnect from killing animals. Good for you – kudos. Can this subject now be dropped or do you need some more praise or backslapping for your ability to murder and feel justified about it afterwards? Let me know what exactly you are looking for by continually bringing this up and I will happily post a verbatim response if that will make you happy and shut you up. I hope a suitable reply can keep you and your friends from shooting all of your animals and posting about it on this site. I don’t understand why you need to bring this up repeatedly. What are you looking for? Well done Al, you’re a superbly disconnected and cold individual. Keep shooting those animals, you’re doing a great job kid!

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Now Kitty, don’t be that way. I’m sorry it hurts your sensitivities, but you don’t have to read my stories if you don’t like them.

    I wrote about the topic again because I had more to say. Doing it myself was a differnt experience than the abstraction of reacting to other people’s stories. Also, Jack was a very different situation than the cats.

    There are a lot of different issues involved that need to be considered, and be warned that I will be writing about this more in the near future.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    The Duke, thanks for the practical input on guns. I’ll take that under advisement. In this case, I was shooting at close range, and it was instant. If I find myself needing to shoot a loose stray from more of a distance, I’ll probably want a higher caliber.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com lumpy

    MCH you have no clue what a menace wild dogs are in a rural area. The city folks drive out and dump them when they get tired of abusing them and they gather in packs and threaten livestock and pets and even attack people. I’d like to be able to let my kids play in the yard, but I can’t if there’s a risk they’ll be attacked by a pqck of feral 60lb pit bull or rotweiller like mutts. So, like dave and al and duke I keep my 40-40 Winchester above the kitchen door and don’t hesitate to use it.

    lumpy

  • http://feminist4fathers.blogspot.com/ Teri

    TA Dodger,

    I think sending this dog to a no-kill shelter would have been irresponsible. Here in CA we’ve been having non-aggressive dogs attacking and killing people. This WAS an aggressive dog. Would you want to be responsible if something happened to a small child, for instance? Sure there are families with no small kids. Things still happen, even under the best of circumstances. I applaud his decision.

    Teri

    ps. And I adore dogs. I’m a dog whisperer.

  • http://www.blogcritics.com T A Dodger

    I think sending this dog to a no-kill shelter would have been irresponsible.
    I’ve tried not to take a position on whether what Al specifically did was ok or not, because I didn’t know Jack, and I can’t say what kind of threat he was. I just wanted to say that 1) Dog aggressiveness =/= agressiveness toward humans and 2) there are rescue organizations available (because it didn’t seem like Al considered them, and because I’m just very pro-rescue, and like to spread the word).
    I also wanted to say, as a general note, that if you take on a dog as a pet, you have to take responsability for finding that dog a new home when you can no longer keep it, unless there are special circumstances (like the dog is a danger to humans).

    Here in CA we’ve been having non-aggressive dogs attacking and killing people.
    I’m confused by this statement. If a dog kills a person, it’s aggresive, no?

  • Mike Baxter

    You should’a called Ceasar Milan.

    But seriously, don’t you know how to breakup a dogfight? Pick up the aggessor dog by his back legs “wheelbarrow” style and start moving him backwards. If you’ve got someone with you, it’s helpful if they do the same with the other dog.

    It can take a few minutes but two fighting dogs can generally be extricated from each other this way.

    This is 100x more effective than kicking, beating, spraying water, and all that other horseshit that never works.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Mike- Grabbing hold of a pit bull in kill mode would be a good way to get yourself hurt, even if it wasn’t intending to attack you.

    More importantly though, this wasn’t just a one time thing. Jack attacked other dogs, and especially the Fugitive like this repeatedly. Besides making the other dogs live in fear being unacceptable, I’m not going to be in the yard to intervene at all times. It’s a thousand wonders that Fugitive wasn’t killed. Even our big coon dog Rouser was hurt pretty badly.

    No, poor Jack was just ill-bred, and there wasn’t anything to do but to put him down.

    And TA, why is such a bad thing to put down an animal? Torturing animals is bad. Keeping them on a chain all the time is really bad. That’s suffering. But Jack didn’t suffer- and now neither do the other animals he was hurting, my other dogs and every other small animal in the vicinity.

  • MCH

    Comment #112:

    “Did I mention that I have on occasion sat in my back yard and SHOT stray/wild dogs with a hunting rifle?…Now the cougars have taken over the coyotes hunting ground, so they’re wandering up to the house and needing to be SHOT as well. I figure the next visitors will be the cougars themselves, so I’m keeping my 30-06 and a clip by the bakc door at all times now.”
    – Dave Nalle

    And then on Dec. 16, 2006:

    “I’ve never actually KILLED a stray dog. Those I’ve shot I’ve shot with buckshot to drive them off. If I ever did kill one I’d dispose of the body appropriately. Not about to leave a rotting carcas in my yard.”
    – Dave Nalle

    ———————————

    “Dave Nalle…magazine editor, a freelance writer, a capitol hill staffer, a game designer and a history professor…”
    – Dave Nalle

    Um, Nalle, you left out “pathological liar”…