Reality Check w/ John Tracy: The Campbell Lake neighborhood dog slaying
Nothing seems to generate more passion in people than pets — with the possible exception of guns. This week, the story of the shooting of a dog in a Campbell Lake neighborhood has generated a robust public debate.
The facts are not in dispute.
Jason Mellerstig was in the process of moving his family into a house in the neighborhood. He parked his truck near the front yard of his new neighbor Dave Brailey. As Mellerstig was putting his 3-year-old son in the truck to take him to school, Brailey’s dog Skhoop, a 7-year-old chocolate lab, barked and charged at the father and son. Mellerstig drew a pistol and shot the dog several times.
Mellerstig says he had a split second to act and was protecting his son.
Brailey says there was no need to shoot because Skhoop was wearing a shock collar, activated by an invisible fence around the property’s perimeter.
So who was at fault here? I’m guessing in hindsight both Brailey and Mellerstig would have handled things differently.
First of all, an electric fence and shock collar is not always enough to stop an aggressive dog. And animal control had already flagged Skhoop an aggressive dog — not a bad dog. A lot of labs, including labs I’ve owned, can be very protective of their owners and property. Skhoop was acting like a dog.
Mellerstig, who was new to the neighborhood, had no history or relationship with the dog. He didn’t see a fence and he didn’t see a pet. He saw an aggressive animal that was threatening his son and he took action to protect him. He was acting like a father.
Brailey and his wife lost a beloved pet. Mellerstig, who will have to answer for discharging his gun and leaving the scene, lost an opportunity to make a good first impression with the neighborhood.
According to the reports I’ve seen, both men seem to be reasonable and rational, and I hope they’ll find a way to get past this.
What bothered me most about this story, was the report that the neighborhood held a meeting Monday night, without inviting Mellerstig. Among the topics of discussion, was their comfort level of allowing their children to play with Mellertstig’s children.
Reality check: The kids did nothing wrong. There’s no need to create additional victims or ostracize this family.
After all, if we’ve learned anything from this incident, it’s that invisible fences can sometimes do more harm than good.
John’s opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees.
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