This tale ends happily, but not all of them do

AJanuary news release sent by Rogue River Police Chief Ken Lewis led with the information that "an aggressive pit bull that appeared malnourished forced a grade-school lockdown Wednesday and prompted police to attempt to kill the dog."

Happily, the tale of this particular abandoned and starving young dog does not end with a bullet to the brain. In fact, Kent (as in Clark Kent — aka Superman's mild-mannered alter ego) recently found a forever home.

The chief informed me Thursday that he's as thrilled about this turn of events as the rest of us "happily ever after" addicts. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

The frightened pooch landed on RRPD's most wanted list because he'd menaced folks at the athletic track near Rogue River Elementary School. The school went into lockdown for fear that this unknown dog, which had been living in thick blackberry bushes near the northwest corner of the field, would enter the playground and savage a child.

No officer wants to shoot a pet, Lewis said. But the police are charged with protecting public safety. They initially tried to capture Kent with a rope pole that cold winter's day. But when the officers approached the dog, he charged, Lewis said.

This is an understandable reaction on the part of a terrified and half-crazed animal when approached by strangers. But it proved to be a near-fatal error on Kent's part.

The chief said officers next attempted to herd Kent "over the edge of the field and down the bank of Evans Creek, where it could be dispatched." Dispatched — that is cop-speak for shot. Dead.

But Kent managed to elude police that day, and for several more days, even though Jackson County Animal Control officers had set out a humane trap baited with food.

Officers checked the trap regularly. But Kent didn't take the bait. Instead he sought shelter in the garage of a nearby home that was under construction. The story goes that when a worker opened that garage door one morning, the surprised carpenter bolted one way, and Kent bolted the other.

The frightened and hungry dog eventually found his way to the backyard of an older couple who fed him and notified police. A little food and kindness apparently went a long way toward healing Kent's inner slavering beast, for when an officer arrived, the pooch wagged his bridle butt and hopped happily in the back of the squad car.

Kent cruised cozily to the county shelter, where he managed to navigate temperament testing and avoid the Big Needle.

Last week, Kent was adopted by an experienced owner who has proven he's willing to train, socialize and properly care for the traumatized young dog. Randi Coleman, kennel technician, spent time ensuring Kent's new owner was a good match so that "Kent would not be put in a position to have to fend for himself ever again," she said.

"This gentleman was kind enough to jump through all our hoops," said Coleman.

I've rescued enough wayward critters to believe in happy endings. But I've also been around the block often enough to know some dogs are dangerous. In all cases, I don't blame the dogs. I blame their owners.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email

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