From left, the Eiders--Range, 10, Cody, 14, Tiya, 12, and Mahdi, 8, with their dog, Chuchie--gather in their motel room in Talent. They hope to put enough money together by Monday to get their dog, Bruce, out of the Jackson County Animal Shelter. Jim Craven 1/24/2008 - Jim Craven

Short Leash

A last-minute intervention by county officials bought more time for the sad-eyed dog with droopy ears and a black nose waiting in the back row of cages at the Jackson County Animal Shelter.

Now his owners, the Eiders — who have fallen on hard times of their own — hope they can pull together the money to get Bruce, a stocky mixed-breed dog, out of the shelter.

"He's like a child," said Camile Eider. "We can't just let him die."

County records show Bruce was picked up running loose in the White City area Jan. 13, the same day the Eiders said they handed him over to a family friend because they couldn't keep him while staying in a motel after being evicted from their home.

His 10 days at the shelter, the maximum time county ordinances give owners to pick up impounded animals, were up Wednesday, and Bruce, who has a history of running loose and a dangerous dog citation for chasing a child in 2006, was slated for euthanasia at the end of the day.

Shelter director Colleen Macuk said the 55-pound dog, who isn't neutered, wasn't a candidate for adoption because of the dangerous dog citation and aggressive tendencies he showed at the shelter, including attacking a large dog.

Camile and Randy Eider frantically worked the phones for help and reached Jackson County Commissioner Jack Walker.

"We understand that our decisions affect pets and we try to meet a family's need," Walker said. "Unless there is some reason he should be destroyed, we need to give this family a chance to bail their dog out."

He called other administrators and won Bruce a reprieve until Monday.

Camile and Randy Eider and their four children adopted Bruce for free in front of Wal-Mart in November 2005.

They rented a house with a fenced yard on a cul-de-sac in White City, ideal for kids and dogs, Camile Eider said. The pup, named for the "Bruce Almighty" movie, grew into his giant paws and floppy ears, a muscular mix of "boxer, mastiff, cocker spaniel and maybe some other stuff," said Tiya Eider, 12.

He watched out for the Eider kids — Cody, 14; Tiya; Range, 10; and Mahdi, 8 — and got bossed around by Chuchie, Tiya's chihuahua who is just a few months younger than he is.

"He wouldn't hurt anybody," Camile Eider said, noting that he is protective of his family.

He was just playing too exuberantly in December 2006 when he chased a neighbor's child and pulled the 3-year-old to the ground, resulting in the dangerous dog citation, she said.

County records show he had been picked up in July 2006 for running loose and not being licensed. He still wasn't licensed or vaccinated by that December. He also escaped while the Eiders visited family in Washington and was impounded there, the Eiders said.

"We always got him out right away and I wondered who would leave their pets in there, never realizing I was going to be one of them," Camile Eider said.

In September 2006, Randy Eider, who works for a small logging outfit in White City, had a heart attack. With no health insurance, numerous medical bills and his inability to work for roughly nine months, "things went downhill," Camile Eider said.

They were evicted from their home of nine years in June and spent the summer in local campgrounds, although Randy Eider went back to work. As the weather got colder, they moved to yurts at state parks, then into motels.

They gave Bruce to a friend until they found a more settled living situation. Then Camile Eider got a call from someone who reported seeing the family's dog at the pound.

Eider went to the shelter Jan. 16 and identified Bruce and said she would be back to get him, Macuk said.

Macuk explained the $13-per-day fee the county charges for keeping animals. Time ticked by and shelter workers didn't have a way to reach the family, who finally stopped in Wednesday to visit. The Eiders were shocked to learn that the shelter bill and licensing fee would push the cost for freeing Bruce to more than $200.

"We don't get any tax dollars or general fund money, so we have to recoup our costs," Macuk said.

She also noted that the stream of lost, abandoned and unwanted animals is unending and the county can't keep pets forever until they are claimed. The 10-day limit was put into place in 2001.

"We have to be consistent and fair as we enforce these regulations," Macuk said.

She noted that it's unfair and unhealthy to keep dogs in the shelter's small kennels for extended periods of time. Animals under such stress can be dangerous to workers and neighboring animals.

Randy Eider gets paid today, and the Eiders will have to evaluate their budget to see if they have the money to get Bruce out, renew his license and rabies vaccination (which expire this month) and pay the weekly rent on their Talent motel room, Camile Eider said.

Eider said she hopes that people who want to help can donate to the shelter.

"We would like to help get Bruce back and help all the other animals there, too," she said.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail

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