On a recent Saturday morning I was out running along the foreshore overlooking the bay, when suddenly a Staffordshire bull terrier decided to join me. She quickly accelerated past and headed onto the beach to join in with some other dogs who were running along the wide expanse of sand where beach meets the sea.
Ten minutes later I eventually stopped for a coffee at a popular beachside café and within minutes the same dog scampered in behind me causing chaos as she moved from table to table, panicking families in the process – she was stressed, boisterous and clearly lost without her owner in sight.
Eventually, a lady managed to hold onto her collar and brought the dog under control, but then the business of dealing with the stray dog began to unfold. I quickly aided managing to calm the dog and together we found a leash that restrained her, whilst we decided what to do next.
I then telephoned the local council, only to be greeted with an answering machine telling me the offices were now closed. I eventually found another number, dialled and was greeted with a voice message telling me to take the stray dog to an animal centre somewhere on the other end of town.
The dog was a powerful animal, not easy to handle and intimidating for some, so I decided to ring the local police. They very quickly told me that it was not their responsibility and to ring the local authority, which I’d already done of course. They told me to ring the main council number and try again, so I did.
This time I spoke to a council security office, who told me that it was not his responsibility, he couldn’t help and to ring the police. I told him that I’d already done that and they told me to ring the council. He said he couldn’t help. I rang the police again and told them that if nobody was going to help then we may have to let the dog go allowing it to roam freely again and then it would become someone else’s problem. He told me it was up to me what I did but they couldn’t help.
We were on a beach – people there were simply walking and enjoying the day, so there was no one present with a vehicle to possibly transport the dog to any local dog zone and there was a real risk that the dog could potentially become aggressive and ironically then it would become a police problem. But surely prevention is the better option?
Suddenly the local land train was passing packed with tourists. I flagged the train down and explained to the driver what was happening in the hope that he could speak to someone in authority who could help. He kindly acted and telephoned a local warden and I’m delighted to say that 20 minutes later the warden arrived in his land rover and Staffy the Staff was safely put on board and embarked on her journey across town to safety, where eventually she would be reunited with her owner.
The moral of this story is about taking responsibility. It’s too easy to walk away or hope that someone else will sort the problem, but the fact is they don’t.
When problems or situations unfold, some people do take responsibility but others simply turn the other cheek and that includes on this occasion the disgraceful attitude and poor decision making by our public services. They are supposed to be in place to deal with such matters and provide a public service when it really matters.
Today, tomorrow, this week or next month unexpected and challenging circumstances will come our way. Instead of turning the other cheek do something positive take responsibility and make a difference.