Animals within the city limits


Randy Riley - Contributing Columnist



Every spring when we finally get to open our bedroom windows and sleep connected to the cool night air, we also are hit with a frustrating reality. Somewhere in our neighborhood someone owns a big, loud dog.

We live in what I consider a quiet neighborhood. We have lived in this house for slightly over 23 years. Before moving here, we lived on West Locust Street, just a few houses past Swindler’s Florist. Over time, we grew used to the noises that rumbled from Locust Street up to the house.

When a semi-truck would drive past, the driver would have to accelerate as he climbed the slight grade in front of our house. The acceleration would cause the windows in the living room to rattle. The vibration could be felt throughout the entire house.

We got used to it. We would stop talking until the truck passed. We knew there would be some dialogue coming from the TV that we would miss. At night, it was like living near a railroad track. Eventually, you stop waking up because of hearing the noise. It’s what you expect when living on a main street in town. Then we moved into a residential area at the west edge of town.

The first few nights of living at the end of Washington Avenue were unnervingly quiet. We could barely hear the traffic in the distance. There was no rumbling felt in the house; no rattling of windows. Sitting on the front porch, enjoying the night was, for us, like sitting in a remote camp grounds. It was quiet.

We grew accustomed to the quiet. We enjoyed; we treasured the quiet.

Then one night — one quiet, fall night as I just started to doze off, a big dog started barking. It wasn’t the yapping of a small dog or the barking of a medium-sized pet. It was the deep, full-throated woofing of a large, very unhappy canine.

I imagined it to be the type of dog you never wanted to come running at you while you were riding your bike — huge broad head, massive slobbering mouth, paws the size of dinner plates. That’s how I imagined the beast of McDermott Village.

It (the beast) had amazing timing. It never barked in the afternoon or evening. It never barked when I first went to bed. It waited until I was just ready to nod-off, then … it sounded like Cujo protecting Fort Knox.

Whenever I thought about calling the police to complain, it stopped. It had perfect timing.

So … we have animals in town. Usually, people and pets get along just fine, but when there are problems, the mayor’s office usually hears about it.

Cats roam about untended and apparently unowned. They tear up flower beds and leave their little kitty-deposits on your porch and in your flower bed. I wish there was something we could do to eliminate this problem, but, nothing, other than personal-cat-owner-responsibility, appears to work.

Most people find it surprising that almost all animals are legal in the city. While there are rules that ban most exotic animals, some are allowed with special permits. Chickens, geese, turkeys, ducks and most other birds are allowed.

Believe it or not, horses and cows are allowed in town.

Rules prohibiting noxious odors can be enforced to limit the stench that many animals produce and noise ordinances will be enforced to protect people from crowing, braying, mooing and barking. Unless the sneaky mutt knows when to start and stop barking like the beast that lives in our neighborhood.

The only animal totally banned has been swine. That is, until this month.

Who could have imagined pigs for pets? Now, we have been introduced to Vincent the Potbellied Pig. Vincent’s owners came to city council asking for help for their little porky friend and help they did receive. City council has now initiated an ordinance that will allow miniature and teacup sized pigs as pets.

Vincent can live in peace, basking in his house in his own special ray of sunlight. He is a much loved pet and can now bring legal joy to his family.

It’s been a good month for swine in the city.

Now, if I could only find out where the beast lives.

Randy Riley is mayor of Wilmington.

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Randy Riley

Contributing Columnist