Animals will be animals; people are the problem

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Kearney, like McCook, requires dogs to be leashed when they’re outside, especially in parks.

Ignoring the ordinance can turn into a tragedy, such as last winter when a dog died after falling through the ice in Barnett Park, despite rescue efforts.

This week, a popular swan died after being attacked by a dog in Kearney’s Yanney Park.

The owner of the dog told NTV News that she was preparing to leave the park and leash her dog when she slipped into a pond.

A male swan, Ike, apparently thought the clutch of four eggs, produced by himself and his mate, Tina, were threatened and moved to defend them. The owner of the dog said he probably thought she was threatened, in turn, and her dog attacked Ike, who later died in a Grand Island veterinary hospital.

The dog was taken away from his owner, is being boarded at $20 a day; and the owner faces hefty penalties, such as $2,000 for the swan plus medical expenses.

Kearney does have the advantage over McCook by having a designated dog park. McCook has had a large parcel of property donated for that purpose, but it has not yet been developed.

We have mixed thoughts on the dog park idea; yes, it would be great to have a fenced-in, designated park where dogs could run loose.

But, judging from the amount of dog-droppings we see deposited in public places such as Norris Park, along the city walking trail, the lawn of the post office and museum — not to mention private lawns — we have doubts about dog owners cleaning up after their animals in a dog park.

We would hope more dog owners would be more considerate of their neighbors and invest in “doggie bags” or even “pooper scoopers” to perform the unpleasant task. Thanks to the city, bag dispensers are already in place on the walking trail and in Norris Park.

The controversy reminds us of the stories we heard about McCook’s short-lived leash law for cats.

We’re not sure about the details, but a frustrated City Council, weary of dealing with loose dogs, and in the interest of fairness, decreed that not only dogs but cats must be leashed as well.

Logic prevailed in the end — but did it?

While the Kearney dog is in hot water for killing one bird, a three-year Fish and Wildlife Service-funded study a few years ago concluded that house cats or feral cats kill as many as 3.7 billion birds in the continental U.S. each year.

That includes about 800 species that are threatened or endangered, according to the American Bird Conservancy. We’re sure McCook’s thriving population of feral cats is adding its share to the number of bird fatalities.

Some have questioned whether domestic cats actually kill that many birds, but there’s a growing movement to create enclosed outdoor cages for pet cats to prevent them from stalking birds and other small animals.

The loss of a swan was a tragedy for Yanney Park, but let’s hope those who decide the fate of the dog and his owner can keep things in perspective.

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