John Howell’s column

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 5, 2010

Foreclosure’s victim sidetracks thoughts on traffic rule change

I had been planning to write a column as a follow-up to Casey Lipe’s October 12 letter to the editor (Urging merging: be considerate, y’all). Lipe introduced the unique concept that oncoming vehicles could help by moving over to the far right lane when another vehicle is attempting to enter the flow of traffic from the middle turn lane.

I had intended to correct a popular misconception about green lights. Drivers may think that the green light at a traffic signal means “Go.” I’ve spent most of my life thinking that myself.

Not so.

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Not in Batesville. Not in New Orleans, either.

If you are stopped at a traffic signal in either locale and the light turns green, you’d better stay put.

First look both ways. Then look both ways again. Then go. Don’t let the driver behind you honking his horn distract you. After all, he has nothing to lose if you pull into the path of an oncoming car.

The old idea that you can go on green — at least in the two cities where I spend any time negotiating traffic signals — has been made obsolete by drivers who blast through intersections as yellow turns to red. In some cases after the light has turned red.

More and more in both cities, I see vehicles barreling through traffic signals because they’ve intentionally speeded up as they approached the yellow light before them.

And if you are still driving with the mistaken idea that a green light means go, you might find yourself directly in the path of that barreling vehicle.

Great will be the clamor of that collision.

So that’s what I had intended to write about in this space until I got a call from a friend Realtor who has encountered what appears to be a new phenomenon from the growing foreclosure crisis: animals left behind after the home’s former owner has been evicted.

This Realtor has encountered the problem at least twice when she has visited locations on the mortgage holder’s behalf to ready the home for sale to a new buyer.

On Wednesday, at a newly-foreclosed house in Keating Grove, she found a medium-size, mostly-Lab, spayed female. Judging from the gray on her muzzle and the appearance of her teeth, she’s at least middle age.

And she was so glad to see somebody and to greet them with the gentle enthusiasm characteristic of her breed.

She’d been left with food and shelter but the absence of human companionship had rendered her confused and perplexed, unfortunate collateral damage to what’s going on around us, none of which was within her control.

I’d have taken her if I had a fenced yard and not so many damncats on Eureka Street at Annie-Glenn’s Bed and Breakfast.

Perhaps you’ve got a suitable location at your house and in your heart for this abandoned dog whose name we don’t even know. We only know that she has one.

Batesville Animal Control Officer Benjie Caine will help you take this dog into your life. Contact him through the police department at 563-5653. He’s now in the process of trying to secure her for adoption.

Of course, if no adoption takes place, the dog will eventually have to be put down, so limited is the space and resources for stray and abandoned animals in our city and county.

If that ultimate solution makes you uncomfortable, it should. The problem of multiplying, stray and abandoned animals, dogs mostly, gets worse with every month that goes by.