Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Hollow in Dayton, Ohio.

As you all know I grew up in the Dayton, Ohio area. And am proud to call the region my hometown. The hardworking no thrills/gritty town made me the person I am today. And the many entertaining stories I have of this place could fill a blog. Thank goodness I have a blog to share them in. Here is one such story.
        When I was going to college back in the early nineties I would come home for the summers and occupy my time with, what many college kids do, a summer job. My summer job was bit cooler than most kids my age. I was hired, for a couple of summers in fact, by the Montgomery County Animal Shelter as a dog license compliance officer. What is this you ask? Well, the job entails a couple two men or women teams going to different neighborhoods throughout the county and Dayton in the late afternoons and canvassing neighborhoods. We would knock on peoples doors, ask if they had a dog, and if it was licensed. If not we would issue citations. Now, I know that sounds like a jerk thing to do, but it really was for the good of the animals. If a dog is licensed and got lost or escaped we could locate the owners quickly and return their beloved pet. If, heaven forbid, your dog got lost and hit by a car or injured, a licensed pet would get emergency vet care while an unlicensed dog would not. And if your dog got lost while, let's say you're on vacation or working out of town a licensed pet would get to stay at the shelter with no fear of being euthanized until the shelter contacted you. Plus it's the law. But at the end of the day it's for the furry faces after all.

       When I tell people about this job they always ask, "Weren't you afraid of the dogs attacking you?"  It's not the dogs that was doing the attacking. Case in point. 
         One day my partner and I were canvassing on the east side of Dayton off of Stanley Avenue. We always affectionately called this part of Dayton little Kentucky due to it's history. Back in the middle part of the twentieth century the city of Dayton's manufacturing sector was exploding and there were to many jobs and not enough people to fill them. Companies would go down to Appalachia in  south east Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee to recruit people to work in the factories. Many of them settled in the eastern part of the city. This influx of people has left a profound mark on Dayton that can still be felt today. But let's get back to that day we were canvassing off Stanley Avenue.
          It was a nice Saturday afternoon and we were enjoying our uneventful day. We befriended a group of young boys that followed us around as we canvassed the neighborhood. It's always good to do this because kids will tell you everything that's going on in the neighborhood and the information could be invaluable, like which houses were crack houses, so that way we could avoid those houses all together. We had been canvassing awhile when I  walked up to a property that I noticed a large amount of dogs (10 to be exact) pacing back and forth by the fence. I could already tell none of these canines had licenses displayed. I stopped at the gate and saw a guy working on his truck by the house. I called to him to please approach so I didn't have to open the gate releasing the dogs into the street. He came over to the fence we started off with some pleasantries. Asked how he was, how his day was going. Seemed like a nice gentleman.  Then I got to the reason of my visit. I explained I was with the Montgomery County Animal Shelter and we were canvassing the neighborhoods checking for compliance of the dog licensing laws and why they are important. He was smiling through all this until I asked about his dogs, and if they were licensed? He said no. I apologized to him but told him I was going to have to issue him a citation and requested his drivers license. He looked a little shocked, and I don't blame him to be honest. I told him I was technically suppose to write him a ticket for each dog, but because he was being cooperative and I didn't want to burden him with more financial strain because each ticket could run from $55 to $85,  I was only going to write him one ticket as long as he got all the dogs licensed. After all that's the most important thing isn't it? He got quite and looked at me, chewing his tobacco and spitting with folded arms. As I was writing his ticket I could see the gears turning in his head as he began to think what was going on here. I started to write faster knowing the sooner I'm done the more likelihood an incident could be avoided with minimum damage to both parties. But right as soon as I was to rip the copy, explain the ticket and hand it to him he looked me in the eye and points a finger and says  in that slow deliberate appalachian twang. "You know, if you were in a hollow in Kentucky you wouldn't be walking out of here alive."  I looked right back at him squarely in the eye and said firmly, "Well, I'm not in a hollow in Kentucky and you have ten dogs, so now you're getting ten citations."  The color left his face as I began to start writing him his ten citations he earned. Lesson of the day, Sometimes being a redneck can be expensive, if you let it get in the way of your judgement.