Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

My tax dollars at work

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I hit a dog on the way to work this morning, the first time in my life that that’s happened.

It was just all so fast. I was driving north on Arlington, around Magnus, when this huge brown dog raced out of a back lane on my right and directly into my path, without slowing down, without looking. I braked, but there was still a considerable impact, and the dog was knocked down and slid 15 to 20 feet out in front of my car.

To my amazement, it got right up and kept running, this time taking to the southbound lanes while running north on Arlington at full speed, no sign of a limp.

I couldn’t believe that the dog couldn’t be injured in some way, and regardless, it was running loose, and had been running at top speed coming out of that back lane; something was wrong with that dog even before we collided.

So I looked up the number of city animal services and called. I went through a bunch of voice mail options, before the system bounced me over to 311, whereupon I went through still another pile of voice mail options, before being advised by a pleasant-sounding robot that I was going on hold until someone became available.

I held, and held, and held.

I finally gave up, and this time tried Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter out on Portage west. I got a real human being, one sympathetic, but unable to dispatch help; she advised that I try emailing 311.

By now, it was half an hour since I’d last seen this poor dog, but I went through the city website and found the email box, which required all kinds of personal contact information be included, and that I fill in a code so that the system would know that it, at least, was dealing with a human. While I was doing all this, I tried phoning 311 again just in case, and was back on hold.

Finally, I fired off my email with all the information I would have given over the phone, and received back an automated reply acknowledging receipt of my email. And then gave up on hold on the phone for a second time.

That was two hours ago, and no word from the city by phone or email.

I hope that dog is OK.

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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