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Watching out for dogs — and each other — this winter

A veteran flak for the CTA once told us a story about how tragedy plays out in this town or, for that matter, any town.

A drunk and homeless man fell on the electrified third rail of the subway tracks and was killed. The CTA received no phone calls of concern.

EDITORIAL

Some time later, a middle-age woman headed home after work fell on the tracks and was killed. The CTA got a few calls.

Some time after that, a dog fell on the tracks and was killed. The CTA’s phones lit up.

We understand. In a big city, tragedy comes along every day, big or small. Compassion must be measured out. And dogs, unlike people, are pretty much beyond even a suspicion of blame in these situations.

So we’re as relieved as the next Chicagoan that seven dogs carjacked on Wednesday afternoon were found safe on Thursday morning. And we’d like to extend a thank you, on behalf of all dog lovers, to the anonymous citizen who called the police to report a dog sitting for at least an hour in a gray van on the Near South Side.

It was so cold Thursday. Had that person not called, those dogs could have died.

As it happens, at least 20 people in Cook County have died from the cold this year, though their sad stories have not drawn the same media attention as the plight of the dogs. The most recent death confirmed was that of Harvey D. Harmon, who was found lying on South Vernon Avenue. He was homeless, we are told, and died of the cold and drink. He was only 53.

Winter is hard in Chicago, and we’d had best look out for each other, wherever we may fall on the scales of blame.