Hey Tribal Leaders: Protect Your Members – Take Care of Your Deadly Dog Problem
South Dakota’s tribal governments probably don’t need another white guy like me to tell them that they have a problem, but they have a problem - a Third World Problem.
It’s called wild dogs and they are killing your people.
A child and a woman, both Native Americans, have been killed in the last six months on the state’s reservations by wild or at least unleashed dogs. And still, some tribal members want to save the dogs.
That’s some screwed up priorities.
I’m not a dog hater. I love dogs. I’ve had dogs in my life since I was a kid. At one time a few years ago, I owned three dogs. I own a fuzzy little cairn terrier named Toto, who I love dearly. Dogs are great and loyal companions—if properly trained and cared for.
I’ve experienced a number of Third World countries firsthand. I’ve faced Uzi and M-16 bearing Israeli soldiers pointing their weapons at me outside a Palestinian refugee camp. I’ve been mobbed by Syrian refugees at a food giveaway in Kurdistan. I’ve gagged upon entering the nastiest public bathroom on the face of the planet in China. I’ve seen bugs the size of your head in Panama.
So I know a thing or two about Third World problems.
But one thing I didn’t face in those lovely locales was packs of vicious dogs.
Let me tell a story.
About 25 years ago when I was working for South Dakota Public TV, we were taping some stories up on the Standing Rock Reservation in North and South Dakota. As we approached Fort Yates, North Dakota, our intern exclaimed, “Look, that’s a schipperke! That’s no usual reservation dog! It must belong to someone!”
So we stopped the state-owned Chevy Celebrity station wagon and put the dog in the way back. The dog proceeded to shed at a prodigious rate, seemingly creating more hair as it lost its hair. We were in an indoor blizzard of dog hair. We cleaned dog hair out of the car for over a year.
When we pulled up to a drive-in diner in Fort Yates, we asked the teenage girl working there if there was someone we could call about the “special” reservation dog we “rescued.” Her response?
“Don’t you think we have enough ****ing dogs on the rez?” she spit.
She made a good point then and a good point now. So we dropped the dog back where we found it. He trotted down a drive, seemingly knowing where he belonged.
Yes, there are enough ****ing dogs on South Dakota’s reservations.
And two people have lost their lives because of it, dying in one of most terrifying ways imaginable—mauled by dogs. About the only thing worse I can think of is being beheaded by ISIS.
Some of the tribes have said they don’t have the money for a proper animal control program. Whatever. Find it.
It’s time to end what was an ongoing joke about rez dogs that has now turned into a public health crisis. Time to lock and load the 30.06s and go dog hunting. The responsible dog owners have nothing to worry about if their dogs are where they are supposed to be.
Unfortunately, it’s not the feral dogs’ fault that they have multiplied and act like wolves. It's also not the unleashed dogs' faults. They’re just reverting to their natural state. Humans let it happen and are to blame. The dogs just get to pay the price for their human's laziness and stupidity.
But that doesn’t mean South Dakota’s tribal leaders get to suddenly have soft hearts and soft heads. The lives of their people depend upon them being true warriors and protecting their people from this canine menace. Others will die or be maimed unless they act with alacrity.
No more excuses, Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Standing Rock and Cheyenne River. This isn't a white problem or a Native problem: It's a dog problem. Protect your people and take care of your deadly doggy danger.