Culture change, property rights may be culprit 6/14/13

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 14, 2013

Culture change, property rights may be culprit

An upcoming court case in Panola County Circuit Court is about more than family pets being poisoned.

Last December about a half-dozen residents of the Eureka area east of Batesville lost approximately 13 dogs, many of them family pets. Brad W. McCulley is charged with 13 counts of unlawful use of a restricted pesticide in a manner inconsistent with its labeling—a felony in this case.

Some who lost pets witnessed with their children excruciating suffering of affected animals. Quite naturally emotions have run extremely high with some victims wanting the accused to receive serious punishment.

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Although some animal rights types see the pet deaths as horrendous, there are those among them that advocate responsible pet owners should keep their animals confined to their home, yards and property, not allowing them to venture where something such as this would happen.
And that’s why this case is about more than pet deaths.

As property owners, most of us think we should be able to control who and what enters and uses our property.

As property owners in a rural setting, we think our pets can have run of the place as they have for years, like they always have with those who came before us.

But problems often arise when un-tethered canines roam and gather. It could come in the form of wildlife harassment, chasing or killing livestock, attacking people, digging in flower beds or just being a general nuisance.

Add the fact that outdoorsmen currently spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on wild game food plots and don’t want loose dogs meandering through, and you have another area of fanaticism to consider.

On the other hand, those of us who live or were raised in rural and agrarian areas are accustomed to our unrestrained “yard dogs”  serving as early warning devices, hunting tools, critter and snake getters, playmates, baby sitters, companions and security guards.

While this case will focus on “unlawful use of restricted pesticide,” there are also issues of property rights and a possible changing of culture at hand.

In a different world, Panola County would have a facility to house and ability to neuter all strays and unwanted pets and the ability to enforce laws that would make every pet or animal owner responsible for every pet.

That’s not going to happen. Panola County is too diverse and too massive for that undertaking and the voting public would not support additional costs of housing, feeding and medical treatment of animals and enforcement costs that would be required.

But Panola County does need to look at the big picture and why situations like this exist.