your town noticed isn't as easy as it used to be. People used to
try and break some long-standing world record like the world's largest
four-bean salad or some silly endurance record using as many residents
and pogo sticks as possible. Chambers of commerce all across this
country rack their brains trying to get people to visit their respective
towns. Usually the best they can come up with is a slogan like "Gateway
to the Next Town."
But in Jourdanton,
Texas, the chamber of commerce can take a breather. In that
county seat town of nearly 4,000 people, the city manager (without
even being asked) took the reins and came up with a novel idea that
insured that his town would be remembered for years. Jourdanton
will now join the ranks of Texas cities and towns that made the
news for sad and unfortunate events. Cities and towns like Waco,
there was the initial event - which was drowning stray dogs in sewage.
The reason given for this act was that the county veterinarian who
usually euthanizes stray animals was on vacation.
Waiting a few days for the Vet to come back from vacation might
cost the county money for dog food (assuming that they feed condemned
animals in Jourdanton). Drowning is expedient and saved the taxpayers
$8 per dog. Is anyone bringing that up? Shooting the dogs would
make noise - and some of those pesty citizens / taxpayers might
complain. After the decision was made to drown them - then came
the question of how. Water? Sewage? We've got more of one than the
other - but what's the difference? They're just dogs, it's not like
they're county prisoners. Hmmm..... no, first things first.
Well, it's a tough job being a city manager - and we can't imagine
the pressures involved in "managing" a city of nearly
4,000 people. Often the managed just don't seem to know their place.
Normal people usually can't handle this pressure - and would probably
crack. We think this man needs to be given some credit for all he's
done to Jourdanton. (Or should that be for Jourdanton?)
The only mistake seems to have been killing the dogs in front of
a young boy who was performing community service. Evidently this
boy wasn't as tough or mature as the city employees. He was bothered
by the incident and he told his mother who then complained to someone
The investigation was conducted by the Sheriff's department and
evidently these people showed some compassion and empathy - just
the kind of personnel you'd want in law enforcement. The sheriif
knew that there are only two ways to kill animals in Texas - and
drowning them in sewage wasn't one of them.
But what many people don't understand is that compassion and empathy
often get in the way of managing small towns. Did we mention it's
a tough job?
If the outraged citizens of Jourdanton had their way - the man who
drowned the dogs would've been fired. Perhaps he would've learned
that people in civilized societies don't do things like that. But
lets say the man was fired - how in the world would firing
him get Jourdanton in the news?
The city manager came through. After trying to get attention by
giving the city employee a slap-on-the-wrist reprimand, he took
other attention-getting actions like the tired but true try-to-sweep-it-under-rug
ploy. Only whispering something gets more attention.
Crazy you say? Like a fox.
He also personally bailed the man out of jail (on minor charges
of public intoxication and driving city vehicles on a suspended
license). Meanwhile the Atascosa
legal system went about rounding up a grand jury (which will convene
in early September) for the dog drownings.
The employee's prior infractions were leaked to the press. We have
to wonder who was clever enough to furnish these facts? Then someone
called nearby San Antonio
and in less time than it takes to watch Sixty Minutes a television
crew was there - right according to plan.
When the TV folk arrived for a press conference there was initial
fear that they might get some answers and leave - never to come
But once again the city manager went into action. He threw the television
microphone under the table and then slammed a door in the reporter's
face. Can you think of a better way to keep the press interested
in you or your town? We can't.
were rolling now. PETA wrote a very civilized (and important) letter
to the Mayor of Jourdanton - pointing out that sometimes the only
thing separating animal abusers from the murderers of people is
lack of opportunity. The incident was picked up by national media
- at least until events at Crawford
and Baghdad pushed it back into Texas - and onto the Internet where
it's gaining international interest.
You have to admire the wisdom of this city manager who will no doubt
quit on this high note and open a public relations company. Our
congratulations go out to the people who hired such a marketing
genius. The name Jourdanton will now be remembered for a long time
and it hasn't cost the taxpayers a thing.
Our sympathy and thanks go out to the decent people of Jourdanton
- which we're sure are in the majority.