by Julie Hall with Sarah Lane January 2, 2013 7:33 p.m.
It seemed like an idyllic day at the beach for a family and their dog visiting Fay Bainbridge Park. A couple, who prefer not to be named, just moved to the Island in December and went to Fay Bainbridge with their family looking for some holiday fun on December 30.
According to the husband, at least 4-5 people were there with their dogs off leash on the beach, so he and his family thought it was okay to let their friendly dog off leash too. But before long their dog was out of sight, which was worrisome because, he explained, she usually stays close. They searched the beach calling and found no trace of her. He said that at the south end of the beach, a woman leered at them from over the hedge of her property, which directly abuts the beach. He and his wife had been intending to ask her if she had seen their dog but decided she was unfriendly and acting strangely so chose to move along.
Some 20 to 30 minutes later, still searching, another family member, back on the south end of the beach again, heard whimpering from the woman’s yard. The woman was now nowhere in sight, but on her lawn he saw a metal cage with the dog trapped inside. There were traces of smelly food in the cage. The husband explained that evidently the cage had been baited and had drawn the dog inside and then trapped it. “Food is really the only thing that would make her run away from us, and the cage kept her from coming back when we called, so her disappearance suddenly made sense,” he said.
Seeing the cage, the family member walked onto the property, released the dog, who was “shivering and whimpering,” and held onto her as the home owner came back out of her house and began angrily “lecturing” about leash laws.
The couple appeared, ready to apologize about their dog being on her property but stopped short when they saw the trap. According to the husband, the woman said to them, “Well, you’re lucky you got to it first because if I had you wouldn’t have a dog.”
After hearing about the incident, Inside Bainbridge visited the woman’s home to get her side of the story. She corroborated everything the husband had told us about the event with his dog, including her threat. When pressed to specify what she would have done to the dog if she had found it in the trap first, she refused to answer, saying “Oh no, I’m not telling you that.”
She explained that she keeps out two wire cage traps to get raccoons, whom she also declined to say what she does with once she catches them. She said she leaves out rotten meat in the traps. (Deadly snap traps are illegal in our area.) “I was making lemonade, and I saw a man in my yard holding a dog,” she said. She went out and saw that the man had bent her (low) fence and said to him, “What part of leash do you not understand? The sign says ‘leash your dog, it’s the law.'”
In fact, off of Park property, City law permits dogs to be off leash if their owners have voice control over them.
The woman told Inside Bainbridge that people have been coming to the park with their dogs off leash for years: “There are only a few that obey, only a few that pick up their crap.”
Sound like an animal hater? It’s more complicated than that. The woman, who said she is 77 but declined to give her name, feeds dry cat food to the seagulls every morning on the beach, loves the antics of the otters, feeds a returning pair of hummingbirds, has had many cats and dogs, and expertly sews dog and cat beds to donate to the Kitsap Humane Society. In point of fact, she recently donated 76 well-made animal beds to them. She said her dislike of raccoons stems from losing six ducks and six chickens to a raccoon raid one night back when she lived in Kent. “My 11-year-old hen and I are growing old together,” she explained.
Having grown up in Montana with a complex relationship with animals, she also said she raised rabbits and chickens for food and “butchered and fried for dinner” a cat she “didn’t like.”
She expressed most of her frustration at irresponsible people who allow their dogs to run onto her property: “I can’t shoot the damn dog, and I can’t shoot the master either; it’s illegal.”
Sound like a misanthrope? It’s more complicated than that. She crochets blankets that she donates to a women’s shelter in Bremerton, makes dolls for an orphanage in Romania, sews bibs and baby blankets for an organization called Pregnancy Aid, and makes hats for a men’s shelter.
Kitsap Humane Society Interim Executive Director Eric Stevens explained the organization’s stance on trapping: “Trapping an animal, while not illegal, can be traumatizing for it and its owners. A key component of the work of the Kitsap Humane Society’s Animal Control division is to handle stray animal complaints and help neighbors resolve such issues. From an animal welfare perspective, we discourage trapping to protect domestic pets. We also encourage pet owners to follow pertinent leash laws. On Bainbridge Island, this means having your dog in sight and under verbal command.”
He continued, “It is understandable that a homeowner might not like it, or get concerned or frustrated, if a stray dog comes onto their property. However, Kitsap Humane Society encourages citizens to directly discuss their concerns about a stray animal with a dog’s owners. Otherwise, we encourage citizens to call 911 and make a complaint to Animal Control, rather than take the law into their own hands.”
- Letter from the Editor: Untether Dogs and Their People
- Letter from the Editor: Dog Doody Duty
- Wildlife Habitat Designer Launches FIDOS—Friends of Island Dogs and Open Space
- Park District Opens Up Off-Leash Dog Discussion at Public Hearing
- Proposed Dog Park at Battle Point Unleashes Doggy Dilemma at Public Meeting
- Letter to the Editor: The Proposed Off-Leash Dog Areas at Battle Point Park
- Off Leash on Bainbridge Island
Photos by Sarah Lane.