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Working Ranch April/May 2016

unwrapped the blanket herself. She repeated that the dog was afraid of men and that I needed to be sensitive and that maybe she should go somewhere else. As she pulled the quilt back, Carl appeared at the exam room door. His shirt was torn. His legs were bleeding from the briars, the sole of one shoe was fl opped back at the toe and he reeked of sweat and stagnant water. Over on one side of his forehead was a thick slime of plankton and he had some kind of dried weed behind his left ear. The man was soaked, panting and leaning against the door jamb under the air conditioning vent. I reached to get him a chair only to be brought back to reality by Mrs. Symington screeching to forget about him and look at the dog. There laying on the quilt was a mud-splattered but very happy patient of mine, a Bassett Hound named “Chloe”. I wiped off the rabies tag hanging from her collar, rolled it over and showed Mrs. Symington the dog’s name and the owner’s phone number. “Chloe” was tired but unhurt. Mrs. S. was fi nally silent. It seems the good Mrs. S. and Carl spend their free time patrolling the local highway for stray and abused pets. Their passion had become “rescuing” animals from the evils of men and lauding themselves for being the standards of compassion and the high water mark of animal care. On that particular evening “rescue missions” had been hard to fi nd and the Symingtons had gone from the highway to the farm-to-market roads and then back even further to the gravel roads of our rural county. Here under the oak tree of my neighbor’s yard they had found “Chloe” resting in the evening breeze. The chase was on. In the meantime the Prices had come out to feed their dog, couldn’t fi nd her and fi gured she was off hunting. Animal welfare is essential, with our pets and with our livestock. There are fi ve freedoms of animal welfare that we as caretakers need to recognize: freedom from hunger, freedom from pain, freedom from discomfort, freedom from fear and freedom to express normal behavior (like Chloe resting under the tree). These are basic and I would say ingrained in most every livestock producer I know. This is not animal rights; it’s good husbandry and demonstrates the care and concern beef producers put into what they produce. I am not saying we cannot improve or that there are not problems, but that overall good beef production and good animal husbandry depends on our adherence to these guidelines. Audit your own operation and make the changes you need. Be careful not to judge your neighbor. That evening, as I gave Carl a bottle of water and pulled the slime off of his head, I fi gured maybe he needed rescuing. I gave him some tape for his shoe and walked him back out to the car. His wife was back in the passenger seat with her head turned and her arms crossed. I called the Prices and dropped “Chloe” off at her driveway on my way home. The evening was hot and I watched as she laid down under the oak tree. The Symingtons still patrol our county but I think they use a real Vet in Oklahoma City now. APRIL / MAY 2016 I WORKING RANCH I 97


Working Ranch April/May 2016
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