Many of you have heard of sanctuary cities. But I bet you’ve never heard of a sanctuary state.
When I was about 5 years old Dad got a phone call. I could tell by his expression that the news was not good.
After he hung up he told Mom that someone had called and said that Cindy had killed a chicken.
That was the last I saw of Cindy, a mutt who turned out to be a boy. After Mom’s passing some years ago I rediscovered an old baby diary of me that she had kept up for about a year and a half. I was delighted to find an entry about how Cindy came to us.
“A man came by today to see if we wanted a dog for Stevie,” Mom wrote. “He’s getting one through the boy scouts, said he’d bring it Sat.”
One week later, she added: “Stevie & Cindy (our dog) just don’t get along as good as they did at first. Cindy keeps Stevie crying all the time they’re together. Bites him awful.”
I was 1 year old.
Cindy was a roamer; Toby, another male who looked like he might have had some rottweiler in him, stayed at home. For most part I played with Toby.
Here in the hometown there is an unwritten rule reminiscent of the Old West. The rule is whenever your dog kills a chicken, any chicken, you take a .22 to the dog. It’s a death sentence.
Once a dog gets a taste of chicken blood, they say, it will kill again. Will, not maybe.
That code of the Old West says the owner takes care of the matter, if you know what I mean, and quickly.
North Carolina law says if an owner refuses to take care of business, anyone else can go to court and get permission to do it for him.
Too bad Cindy is not living today. The state of Virginia is considering an end to that slice of the Old West. Earlier this month the state House there approved a bill to end death sentences for dogs who kill chickens, or other livestock.
In an extraordinary act of clemency, Virginia is considering locking up and inserting a microchip into chicken-killing dogs instead. The dogs may be kept penned up or given away. And spared.
The bill now is with the state Senate.
Virginia is responding to a current trend of keeping chickens in suburban backyards. That’s one way to avoid additives or hormones or other nasties that may or may not be in store-bought eggs.
“All it takes is the right gear to make keeping chickens easier than caring for many household pets,” according to HGTV.
For instance, Andy Pendry of Benham turned a kids’ playhouse into a chicken coop for 15 hens and two roosters that he keeps on his one-acre lot. “They’re almost like pets,” he said.
It’s a nice back-to-nature gesture. But it’s also putting chickens under the nose, you might say, of neighborhood dogs unaccustomed to such temptations.
“They want to eat chicken,” member Chris Collins said on the Virginia House floor last month. “Because, of course, it tastes like chicken.”
You can almost hear the dogs talking it up now.
“Hey, let’s go out tonight to the playhouse for some KFC, if you catch my drift,” Old Yeller says.
“Are you crazy? They’ll shoot us,” Huckleberry Hound replies.
“Nah, don’t worry,” Yeller answers. “We can always run up to Virginia. They give us microchips up there.”
“What’s a microchip?”
“Bet it’s something like a Milk Bone.”
If only Cindy had known.
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.