Richard Hyatt: Something's terribly wrong

December 12, 2013 

Something's terribly wrong when three Allen Elementary School teachers have to ask their principal if it's safe for their students to go out on the playground.

Something's terribly wrong when an out-of-town businessman is mauled by a bunch of dogs during an evening run through the neighborhood near the school.

Something's terribly wrong when principal Angi Idel has to turn to social media to find someone to help her deal with wandering dogs that have been making school children cry.

As arrogant as they are mean, the dogs seemed to be taunting the principal from a yard across 23rd Street when she left work late Wednesday, and they were still there when she returned Thursday morning.

Idel is confused. Parents are mad. Children are scared. Neighbors wonder when help will come.

They're being held hostage by a big black dog, a black-and-white dog that walks with a limp and two other animals that are making themselves at home on school grounds.

"Jesus, take the wheel," the exasperated principal said Thursday.

But by late afternoon, no one had grabbed the wheel and done anything about the growling animals.

The dogs have been on the school grounds for four days and for four days Idel and others have called Animal Control.

"Finally they put out a trap," she wrote on Facebook. "Lo and behold, the dogs are smarter than the dog catcher cause they did not get caught."

Fears escalated Wednesday when a guest at a nearby hotel went for a run through the secluded neighborhood. Around 5:15 p.m., he was attacked and bitten, Idel said.

"EMS came to take him to the hospital and a fire truck was sent out," she said. "They stayed long enough to inform me that Animal Control could not capture the dogs. … They have to be trapped in an animal trap."

What about the children?

"I have 500 children that I have to keep off the playground because these wild dogs have rights. I stayed until every single child left the after-school program at 6 p.m. on dog watch because the attacking dog came to the front of the school after biting the jogger. I had children crying and afraid to go to their cars."

Director of Animal Control Drale Short said her staff has been tracking those dogs since September. They started off on Whitesville Road.

"They're wanderers, trying to survive," Short said. "When we try and corral them, they take off in several directions."

Animal Control has learned that a well-being resident has been feeding them, which makes it more difficult to lure the dogs into a trap.

Wednesday's attack has intensified Short's efforts.

"We have to capture a biting animal," she said.

For Angi Idel, the issue remains the same: "I'm trying to protect my babies."

Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. Reach him at

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