Last Saturday, as I was preparing to go to the polls to greet voters, I happened to glance out my kitchen window and witness the most interesting sight. There was a small white SUV driving slowly past my house. A woman in the passenger seat was leaning out the window taking pictures. I guess that is the source of my “numerous” code violation complaints.  It was so cute how she was volunteering to take over for Community Surveillance during the weekend – why, she even copied their white automobile theme. Maybe after she garners a certain number of complaints they will award her a door sticker to put on her car. She must be so proud.

Wow – even from my kitchen window I could see that she was really excited when she saw the railroad tie that had dislodged itself from the retaining wall between my neighbor’s driveway and mine. I hope she didn’t ruin the upholstery in her nice white SUV. Oh – I did go out and replace the errant tie, so her pictures were for naught. I’m sorry if I spoiled her fun. Oh well – I’m sure she can find something else to complain about. For we all know that The Code is written so it is very easy to complain about someone if you really want to. And she did look like a woman on a mission.

As I was watching her, I remembered something that an old rancher told me once, and that is “We’ve got to break that dog from sucking eggs.” I was a kid at the time and thought that term was, well, kind of gross, but now I understand. I researched “egg-sucking dog” on the internet, and was struck by the similarities between sneaking into a farmer’s property to “suck eggs” and trolling the neighborhood to complain about strangers.

According to old farm tales, an egg-sucking dog was a very bad thing to have on a farm. It could be your own dog, or a neighbor’s, but what the pooch would do was sneak into the henhouse and eat the eggs. That dog was stealing food from the farmer’s table. In my research I found that during the first depression a number of families kept chickens so that they could have the eggs as well as an occasional nice chicken dinner. If a neighborhood dog developed a taste for the eggs he could cause some serious harm to a family’s livelihood.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, the concept of egg-sucking dogs has managed to creep into our vocabulary, with a similar meaning.   We reserved “egg-sucking dog” as an appellation for the most despicable sort of person — one who was sneaky and untrustworthy — like the occasional mangy yard dog that slipped about raiding hens’ nests and depriving cooks of one of country cooking’s basic ingredients. A person did not want to be called an egg-sucking dog. A neighborhood did not want egg-sucking dogs in its midst.  To keep a pooch from stealing eggs, farmers would put pepper or Tabasco in an egg and leave it for the dog to find and eat. The idea was to make sucking eggs so disagreeable that the dog would stop. That tactic sometimes worked, but if it didn’t there was nothing left to do but eliminate the animal.

So –  you might ask what this has to do with Code Enforcement. Well, I’ll tell you:

I was told by our fine Community Surveillance folks that they protect the identity of anyone who complains about your home in spite of the fact that, in America, a person has the right to face his accuser. Ah – don’t worry – they have that covered, because the accuser gets to be Code Enforcement, not the egg-sucking dog person who complained. Either way, it is also acceptable to complain about a neighbor or a stranger, under the cloak of anonymity. Code Enforcement will take any complaint, no matter the number, the accuser, or the crime, and they will do their darndest to validate it.

Well, in spite of that, the fine Code of Ordinances clearly states that:

” It is not intended that this article be interpreted or enforced to require the city to intervene in matters which are primarily personal or private in nature and which may appropriately be resolved between or among private interests without material danger to the public health, safety or welfare.”

So, how do they know whether they are being used or not? How do they know whether there is a real Health or Safety issue in our fair City in the Park? How do they know who the egg-sucking dogs are? Well, they don’t. How could they?

There is a notorious court case that has become quite popular because of the concept that a person has the right to the privileges of his own property – and the right to deal with egg-sucking dogs who trespass. Here’s a brief summary of the court’s findings:

It is a fact of common knowledge that when a dog has once acquired the habit of egg-sucking there is no available way by which he may be broken of it, and that there is no calculable limit to his appetite in the indulgence of the habitual propensity. And generally he has a sufficient degree of intelligence that he will commit the offense, and return to it upon every clear opportunity, in such a stealthy way that he can seldom be caught in the act itself.

When a dog of that character has for three weeks taken up his abode upon the premises of one not his owner, or else from time to time during the course of such a period and from day-to-day as well as often during the night, has returned to and entered upon the premises of one not his owner, and has destroyed and continued to destroy all the eggs of the fowls kept by the owner of the premises, what shall the victimized owner of the premises do? Nobody will contend that he shall be obliged to forego the privilege to own and keep fowls and to obtain and have the eggs which they lay; nor will it be contended that he is obliged to build extra high fences, so high as to keep out the trespassing dog, even if fences could be so built. The premises and its privileges belong to the owner thereof, not to the dog.

Hill v. Scruggs, 2 So.2d 543, from 1941 in LeFlore County.

Whoa – what a concept – that people have a right to enjoy their own property. Oh my – what will those liberals think of next?

Ah – but I have an idea. I think it’s time We Stop Those Dogs From Sucking Eggs. And the solution is simple:

  1. Stop the ability to file a complaint anonymously. The City has stated that they go to great lengths to protect the identity of the person filing a complaint, so why would people bother to file anonymously? Ah – I know why: They’re Sucking Eggs!
  2. Make it a point to inspect the complainer’s property along with the target of the complaint. As Bill Glancy points out: use the People in Glass Houses tactic. If a citizen is truly concerned about their health and safety they will welcome the nice people of Code Enforcement visiting and showing how their own homes could be improved. And they can – there is not one home here in The City in the Park that is not violating some part of The Code. Not one. That would be impossible.

Will The City in the Park consider something like this. Well, it depends on several factors, including:

  • Whose, and how many, campaign signs you allow in your front yard.
  • How much money you make.
  • How old you are.
  • How healthy you are.
  • How DESIRABLE you are (according to some people’s desirability index).
  • Uh – and there are others, but you get the idea.

I’m guessing NO – they will not. For, the only way we can weed out the undesirables is to have some people troll the neighborhoods and report them. Then, let the brown shirts Code Enforcement take care of the rest. There now: isn’t that what makes for a nice upscale small-town wonderful place to live? Lots and lots of eggs to suck. Lots and lots of revenue to put in our dwindling coffers.

And if you’re not into that, well, you obviously don’t belong here.