I’m standing in three lanes of traffic, panting, eye-to-eye with a German shepherd. He’s growling. He’s showing fangs.
On the other side of Lake Mead Boulevard, cars whip by. I try sweet-talking the dog: “It’s OK, you’re OK.”
The dog walks a few steps toward me. OK. This is good. We’re almost done with this. I can sense it. He’s coming to me. He’s tired of running wild in traffic, up hills, through intersections, evading multiple cars and all manner of people who’ve tried to corral him.
He’s within 10 feet of me. I’ll let him approach, and then—and then what?! I’ll grab a 100-pound distraught, large-toothed German shepherd I know nothing about by the scruff? Suddenly, it dawns on me: I’m nuts.
A woman in raspberry veterinary scrubs yells from a car, “Be careful!”
In a split second, I start to reconsider the last 10 or 15 minutes that led me here. But the dog makes the first move—a little fake left, fake right, lunge forward—and he barks. Loudly. The sound registers in my head as I’m going to be mauled—and then he cuts right and runs off. Again.
I straighten up and see a half-dozen cars backed up behind my girlfriend’s car, which she’s had to stop in the middle of traffic with hazard lights blinking because I’ve hopped out in the middle of the road to chase a fugitive German shepherd.
Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a column about auto-pedestrian safety. And so, when we saw a young woman in scrubs spring diagonally across six lanes of traffic, directly in front of an animal hospital, my first thought was: very unsafe.
Then, we put it together: A dog had escaped and was running dangerously through traffic. And so, we thought we’d join him.
Public Enemy No. 1 in Las Vegas in recent weeks is a woman named Gloria Lee, who’s not accused of killing anyone. But her crime has drawn protesters at court and prompted the daily news outlets to keep her photo in circulation.
She’s alleged to have set fire—with an accomplice—to her own pet store, Prince and Princess Pet Boutique, for the insurance money. There were 27 puppies still in the store. That’s 27 counts of animal cruelty on top of charges of arson, conspiracy and burglary. Lee pleaded not guilty on Feb. 24.
But whatever the outcome, it’s not likely the public will be quick to forget Lee. Pets hold a huge place in the collective heart, and this alleged crime seems particularly heinous.
Thankfully, the puppies lived because of a sprinkler system and the brave work of Clark County firefighters.
When I was 6 years old, I was bitten by a German shepherd. I’ve been a little hinky around that breed ever since. I flashed back to that incident when I was standing in the middle of a busy street trying, with a bunch of other strangers who’d stopped, to save one from being hit.
Forgiveness and forgetfulness are fickle, and do not apply the same to dogs and people.
Up the road, a few cars had parked sideways across the lanes. The volunteer corral was closing in. Tired now, with nowhere else to go and traffic at a standstill, the dog gave in. He was coaxed into the back seat of another concerned driver’s Mini Cooper. The vet techs high-fived. A few drivers honked their horns in celebration.
We drove off, on with the day, crystal clear about the irrational love of our pets.