Monday, January 28, 2013

Hi Folks,
Three Dog Tale

Brett Weisel, the Director of Advocacy for Feeding America in Washington, DC* told me something I didn’t know soon after I started One Can A Week. Nearly four years ago he said our program will help build our community.

At that time I was just collecting food for the Community Food Bank but Brett’s words stayed in the back of my mind. Last week, I got to see first hand that community Brett said we would build together.

My neighbor and friend Lee sent me an email Thursday telling me about her unpleasant experience while walking her dog around the foot path of our new Arroyo Chico park. She encountered three “very aggressive pit bull mixes” that came barking out of the wash. Lee, not one to be easily intimidated, fended them off with “pepper spray and rocks.”

Nearby was a gentleman who said he was accosted the day before and he called Animal Control. Lee called 911 and was told the officer who patrols our area would be alerted. This procedural response caused Lee to contact me.

I replied saying I would get others involved. Right away I called Animal Control and learned that they had no record of the call the day before and were concerned they had no address for the new Arroyo Chico park. They need that address to send out officers. Our conversation lasted maybe 15 minutes and the fellow on the other end of the line was concerned and considerate.

Friday, the next day, I got another email from Lee with an update. She had just talked to “two young women” Candace and someone with a baby she did not know. I had an idea who they were.

Mary Kathryn with baby Liam is a bit of a fixture strolling through the Miles Neighborhood. Little Liam in a beanie and sunglasses, rides around facing forward in a chest halter, wearing a permanent smile and legs dangling free. She confirmed they had a conversation with Lee when I stopped by her place on Sunday.

Candace and Mary Kathryn told Lee that the dogs were in the care of a transient named Sky living in the wash. He generally restrains the dogs. Lee admitted that on her second encounter the dogs were friendly with other dogs and “quite shy of people.” She decided to “bow out” of the situation but carry a stick when she walks her dog, just in case.

Lee also mentioned that had she known the dogs were involved with a homeless person she wouldn’t have called the police or gotten so upset.

When I responded to Lee’s “bow out” email I told here that “You don’t have to be upset. It is against the law to live in the wash. We have a number of agencies that take care of these homeless. What happens is the police call social services and they send a person to interview the individual and help him get in contact with our city’s help organizations. Sleeping out there in 22 degrees or 17 degrees is very dangerous. They will help get Sky the help he needs. This is a good thing not a hurtful thing.

Lee said those words made her feel better.

In the meantime, I had my own experience with the three dogs. After dark on Friday evening while delivering flyers to Lenny on 13th Street I walked by the wash area and the three came out of the brush barking wildly and flashing their pearly whites. I spoke in a commanding voice and they turned back to the brush.

Saturday another iPhone email showed up from Lee. “Dogs had a go at elderly woman and her dogs, heard her yelling so went out and threw rocks. Tried to decide if I should, again, call animal con.”

Lee continues to tell me the Tucson Police showed up: “nice female officer who called for backup when dogs growled at her.” What happened next surprised Lee. Sky came out of the wash and the dogs settled down. He told the officer and her backup a “convoluted tale” about how the dogs were not his. The officers did not care. The police called Animal Control and told Sky he should leave within 4 hours. One officer left and the other waited some time for Animal Control. When they did arrive, Sky handed the dogs over. “Not sure why he (Sky) did not leave with the dogs,” Lee wondered, “but issue resolved,”

As an Epilog, Lee wrote, “I am sure police came because you called. Thx. The police called animal control or they probably would not have come. I feel bad for the dogs and the guy, but happy I and others can now use path safely again.”

I wrote back to tell Lee that I had not called the police. I just had that extended conversation with Animal Control and when the police did call they hopped to it. Apparently it was some other concerned citizen who did the right thing when she heard the woman in distress. You on the other hand were busy backing up the police before they arrived.

Lee hadn’t thought about her standing up for folks so her humorous reply said volumes about her humility, humanity and her commitment to our neighborhood.

“Haaaa :)”

Brett was right
One Can A Week does build community involvement. All those folks playing a part in this tale are participants and because they are participants they had someone to talk to about a situation that needed immediate attention. Miles is a community now … isn’t it?

*In last week’s blog I said that Sandy Scott was the only person I know in Washington, DC. I just learned Brett Weisel is in DC, too, after researching his title for this post. Now that makes perfect sense since Brett is the one who introduced me and One Can A Week to Sandy.

Feeding … and Clothing the Needy
On Thursday, in honor of MLK Day of Service, Senior Companion Maripaz Preciado greets folks as they enter the Southside Presbyterian Church. They are given a bag of food and the chance to browse hundreds upon hundreds of neatly presented clothes and shoes. Many were surprised and commented on the quality of the garments and shoes.

A year ago, Fran Coleman, Senior Companion Program Manager, began collecting the clothing and from the looks of things, she even took the time to break out her iron.

The Difference Anna Makes
It has only been three weeks since Anna and her folks volunteered to collect food on their block, but interestingly enough, the food donations are on the increase. Same participants, same stops but more food. Soon Anna will visit with neighbors who haven’t participated before. That will be interesting to see if they can resist a little girl’s charm.

We collected a total of 172 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $40.00, a $25.00 check and $15.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


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