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PhinPhan1227
05-05-2003, 11:46 AM
Another dog tale captures the hearts of Tennesseans

FILE PHOTOS
First, it was Patton (shown above as a pup) that got people riled up after he was shot by a police officer. Now, it's Bishop, whose rescue from a fire led to charges against his owner.



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By SHEILA BURKE
Staff Writer


Many pet owners can relate, vet says

For the second time this year, people are getting all fired up about a dog in Tennessee.

This time it's Bishop, a year-old pit bull whose rescue led to charges against owner Jarrod Martin. Earlier this year, animal lovers around the world followed the story of Patton, shot by a Cookeville police officer during a highway traffic stop.

Yesterday, callers and e-mailers deluged news outlets with opinions agreeing with or criticizing Martin's citations at a Nashville fire scene. Several callers to The Tennessean said they were willing to put up their own money for Martin's legal defense.

Martin ran into a burning building to rescue his dog and was later handcuffed and cited with misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct.

But why is it that these two stories involving dogs have garnered so much attention among readers when the newspaper is filled with stories of death and destruction every day?

Many people have animals of their own and think they'd do the same thing as Martin, said Robert Watts, a veterinarian at Nashville Pet Emergency Clinic.

''I guess it's so easy to relate to that,'' Watts said. ''You have a dog in there that's so helpless. The vast majority of people think, 'I'd do the same thing.' ''

Sometimes people injured with their pets in fires or accidents will seek medical treatment for the animals first, Watts said. ''I've seen people come in here with injuries, and I wish they had gone to the emergency clinic themselves,'' he said.

Martin's story generated more response from readers than the death of 4-year-old Luis Cisneros, who was killed and dumped in a west Nashville park in February.

However, one Nashville expert in mental health said it was impossible to compare the responses to the two stories.

No one can do anything to change the outcome in the boy's death, said Oakley Ray, a professor emeritus of psychology, psychiatry and pharmacology at Vanderbilt University.

But in the case of the dog, Ray said, people believe they can put pressure on the police to try to influence the outcome of Martin's legal battles.

In both dog cases, many people saw the dogs on film.

A videotape of Martin climbing up his second-floor balcony and smashing in a window to rescue the dog has received wide media attention. The Tennessean got calls from people in several other states, including Washington.

Readers drew parallels between the incident Wednesday and a January traffic stop in which the Cookeville officer's shooting to death a family dog.

Some, including Nashvillian Thom Roberts, did not appreciate the bad publicity.

''For the second time this year, there is a story in the national media regarding Tennessee, a dog owner and the police,'' Roberts wrote to The Tennessean. ''Friends have e-mailed me from out of state expressing surprise that this dog was not shot, too. Obviously, that is an exaggeration, in this instance, but it is embarrassing and hard to defend.''

Metro police and Nashville fire officials said Martin had risked the lives of firefighters when he ran into the apartment.

Fire officials said it was too hot to go into the building and that they would have rescued the dog when they knocked down the flames.

Reader Forum: Voice your opinion

honey
05-11-2003, 06:51 PM
But wouldn't the dog have been dead by then? I would have tried to save my dog, too. And, yes, the 4 year old's death is very, very sad. I've got two boys and absolutely would be devastated if they died before me and were dumped unceremoniously in some place. But what if it were your KID up there in the burning apartment? Would that have made a difference? What if you have no kids and your dog is like your kid? Sorry, but I would have done the same thing that guy did to save his dog.

PhinPhan1227
05-12-2003, 09:53 AM
As would I. And as a follow-up to the dog that was shot by the cop...NOTHING has been done to that guy.