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OPINION | MIKE MASTERSON: Anonymous kindness

by Mike Masterson | September 17, 2022 at 3:23 a.m.

There are many reasons I chose to return to my hometown of Harrison in 2015, the most significant of which is the genuine and caring nature of its people.

There really is no other place like this community I'm aware of.

That was never more evident than the other day when we went to the Boone County Veterinary Clinic to retrieve our 12-pound taco terrier Benji on his third day of care after being admitted with serious injuries from a dog that attacked and mauled him and Jeanetta.

Police said that stocky pit bull mix had been kept, watered, fed and even named by the people living there, who conveniently claimed afterwards it was a stray they didn't own.

Say what you will, but it sure make makes legal sense to me, regardless of what one claims after the fact, that if they take in, care for and even name a dog for three weeks, it becomes yours with the responsibility to have it vaccinated for rabies and any other legalities.

Sorry, I digress. You can tell just how bothered I remain over this attack.

At the clinic, we were braced to receive a large bill for all the emergency effort that Dr. Rob Wilkinson and staff had expended to repair Benji's body, which included a dislocated front leg, stitches, wound cleanings and two nights in the clinic. So it was no surprise to see the total come to $700.

Readers might recall the final sentence of my Tuesday column wondered who was responsible for paying the vet bill.

So imagine how stunned we were when the lady at the desk said the bill had been paid. We looked at each other, then down at the statement which included a list of 20 items related to Benji's care.

"Paid by whom?" we asked in unison. The woman looked at her computer screen and said, "We don't have a name. It was an older woman with glasses. She came in and asked if Benji was still here and she wanted to pay his bill."

We don't know for certain who was responsible for this anonymous kindness, although we can say it certainly wasn't the negligent dog owner. We do have strong suspicions. But they sought anonymity, which means they clearly didn't seek credit for such a selfless act.

It makes us feel good knowing they received a richly deserved blessing for such a giving act. And it only reinforces my decision to return to this community of so many good people.

Meanwhile, the police report said the attacking animal has been quarantined as required by law for 10 days, and the owner has a November court date for not having gotten the dog a rabies vaccination.

After that, it remains to be seen if it will be euthanized.

Best wishes for Benji

Meanwhile, speaking of kind, supportive people, readers have responded with concern for Benji, who remains in pain.

David O'Quinn wrote: "I distinctly recall that your paper just reported an almost identical incident that just happened in Maumelle--two pits versus a man walking his terrier. It was brutal and re-ignited the pit bull ban debate there."

Linda Keaster said: "I was ready to cry! I'm so sorry! I was already in love with Benji. I pray he fully recovers. It is so sad that we can't safely walk our dogs without something like this happening! Bless Benji."

Catherine Lamb of Little Rock: "I was so shocked and upset to read just now about Benji being attacked. That was a horrifying experience, and I hope that he will make a full recovery. I could certainly relate to your wife's behavior, as I am sure that I would also fight to protect my dog even if I am 75 years old. Once, some dogs were being menacing toward Roscoe, and it was clear to me that I would do whatever it took. Your wife is very brave, and I hope that her injuries are not severe. You all certainly didn't need that with all you have been through. Maybe just don't walk him for a while; I imagine he won't feel much like walking. I don't think I can stand reading anything worse about him. I will be praying for your little boy. May God grant him a speedy recovery."

Martha Marshall: "I saw about the incident with Jeanetta and Benji. So thankful that the 'worse' scenario didn't happen. Praying for fast healing for all three of you. Keep us updated on all of you. Blessings to you all."

Billy Smith wrote: "I was so sorry to hear about the injuries to your wife and Benji. I pray that Jeanetta will recover as well as Benji. It happened in Maumelle this week as reported by your paper. A large pit bull knocked the man down and killed his dog. Although he was carrying a .380 pistol, he could not deploy it quickly enough. When I walk my dog, I try to carry a weapon or big stick, a sign of a sad state of affairs. I am praying for your entire family's recovery."

Pam said: "My heart nearly stopped this morning as I read the details of the horrific attack on Jeanetta and Benji. I could picture the two of them fighting for their lives against that beast. I am not sure sure I could have jumped in the way Jeanetta did. She is a very brave woman who went to the mat for Benji. I pray both she and Benji will recover in time. They will never get over the attack. PTSD, for sure. I will pray that Benji doesn't lose his love of life and his happy-go-lucky manner. I hope you are feeling better each day. Keep us posted."

Babe Free wrote: "So very sorry about sweet Benji. I volunteer with Rescue Road. We save shelter dogs. I know it is too late, but in the future the best way to end a dog fight (I've done it many times) is to grab the bigger dog's hind legs and jerk it away. I know, too late. And yes, your wife will suffer from PTSD from the attack, which is perfectly normal. I do as well. Every time a dog growls, even playfully, I "feel' it deep in my bones. Also, a Martingale collar is better than a harness for walking dogs. As she experienced, harnesses come off very easily. I know all of this is too late, but. Again, so very sorry for sweet Benji!"

Dorothy Hughes: "Oh, Mike, a living nightmare for Jeanetta and Benji! I'm so sorry this unexpected attack happened to them. It makes me so angry at the stupidity of people that allow this to happen. Prayers for Jeanetta and Benji; also continuing prayers for you in your journey of recovery."

Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at

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