My home town is called The Little City, a self-proclaimed title as it asserts its fierce independence within the welter of competing governmental entities within the Beltway. It all has to do with its superior public school system, which props up property values even in hard times, and skyrockets property taxes even for persons without children like me to feed such extravagance.
It's a nice place to jog though, as the forty mile W&OD Trail, a paved over railroad bed, cuts right through the heart of the city, and its streets for the most part are spacious enough and not crushed with heavy traffic. It also has a nice set of hills, such as the hill which I ran up this morning that goes up to the elementary school, a school I attended half a century ago.
The jog was unsatisfactory though. First off I lost the five dollar bill I put in my pocket, a fact I discovered after I'd poured a cup of coffee at the 7-11 near my house to take back to my house at the conclusion of my little two mile outing. The proprietor kindly let me take the coffee anyway, gratis.
A hundred yards and a few minutes before that I had run by a poor little dead cat lying forlornly in the gutter amidst the dirty damp leaves, run over by a car, fresh blood surrounding its head. I decided to call Animal Control as soon as I got home to report it so they could come pick it up and perhaps alert the owners. I thought it would be an unwelcome sight for its family to discover if they were out looking for it.
There was a city police cruiser at the restaurant right next to the 7-11 so I stopped in there first and waited respectfully for the officer inside to finish ordering his breakfast at the counter before I approached him. I asked if the city had an Animal Control officer and he answered affirmatively.
I explained the situation to him, gave an exact location (if you're going to report something, try to know exactly where it is, such as, "on the western curb line of West Street 200 feet north of the W&OD Trail"). I left to go get my coffee next door as he called it in.
When I went by again carrying my coffee he came out and asked me to call it in when I got home because the Animal Control officer wasn't on duty currently and dispatch would give me another number to call. The poor guy had a breakfast waiting for him and I said, "Sure, I'll be home in a few minutes."
Below is as best as I can recreate the conversation I had a few minutes later, after calling the police department's non-emergency number just a few minutes ago.
"City of Falls Church, police department."
"Hi, I'd like to report a dead cat in the city limits that I ran by a few minutes ago when I was out jogging, so your Animal Control officer could go pick it up."
"A dead cat?"
"Yes, it was dead, it had been struck by a car obviously because there was fresh blood around its head, and I thought you could go pick it up and alert the owners. It had a collar."
"Sir, we don't pick up dead animals. Only live ones or injured ones so we could care for it."
"Well, I thought the Animal Control officer could go get it before the family found it and saw it lying in the gutter dead, covered in blood."
"Our Animal Warden is only part time."
"Well, Could I have his number? I'll call it to report the cat's location."
"Sir, she is part time and not on duty at the current time."
I took this as a No. I was starting to regret this. When will I ever learn not to bother with trying to report animal situations within city jurisdictions?
"Well, I'm not sure why the city registers animals then because it looked like it had a tag and you could notify the owners in case they're out looking for it."
(Slight exasperation.) "Well, I can take down a description in case the owners call in. What kind of a cat was it?"
"It was a tabby, a household cat."
"What color was it?"
"Well, aren't all tabbies tan with black stripes?" (I was wrong about this.)
"Tan with black stripes. Okay, was it male or female?"
"I couldn't tell if it was male or female even if it was alive." This was my attempt at humor.
"A neutered cat. Okay, where was it?"
I gave the precise location, wondering if the dispatcher would even bother to write it down.
Poor little tabby, somebody's family member, lying dead in the gutter of The Little City.