Imagine how you would react to this incident: One day you walk outside to your car parked next to your house. You are shocked to discover that the front fender and bumper have been mangled and punctured during the night by... something. There may be blood. What could have done this? What animal could do this?
If you are in Lee County, South Carolina, you may attribute the attack to the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp. First reported in 1988, the seven-foot tall scaly creature runs on two legs, has big claws, and, for some reason, really hates cars. There is zero good evidence that the Lizard Man is a real creature but a freaky creature that attacks cars is a great story. Great stories tend to live on (especially if they help a small town get on the tourist trail map).
But the insurance adjuster is on his way. Let's step back and look at the situation calmly and rationally. Yes, I know. That's not as much fun. Something just tried to EAT THE CAR -- that's a problem that needs solving so we know what to do next.
Can anything possibly do this damage while the car is parked? Do we have any documented cases of this happening where we can determine the circumstances?
Yes. Dogs. Dogs can do this. Not your teacup Pomeranian, but large, strong-jawed and clawed canids can certainly do a tremendous amount of damage to very solid objects like plastic, fiberglass, wood or even steel. Car parts may be made of rather crumple-prone, dentable materials. There are many cases where this has been documented.
Last week, Jim Flood, who lives next to a golf course in Palm Springs, California experienced just this incident. He found a section of his BMW 321i ripped apart above the wheel. There were teeth marks and paw prints. He, like others, were surprised by this degree of damage. According to this news report, a neighbor told Flood two animals "bigger than coyotes," were seen running through the neighborhood that previous night. In the video that accompanied the story, Jim says the neighbors referred to this damage as possibly from a "chupacabra".
What a great story! Several news sites and blogs reproduced the story as an unsolved mystery. Disappointingly, no one suggested lizard man. Being the monster fan I am, it was the first thing that popped into my head.
Was it an unknown monster? A mutant? Something truly dangerous? Before we call the monster squad, a very likely scenario could be that the roaming dogs were chasing a cat who hid in the wheel well of the car for protection. When motivated, the dogs will chew through some pretty tough stuff to get at their quarry. Four bull terriers attempting to get at a kitten hiding under the fender of this minivan made a considerable mess. A mountain lion was suspected in a case from Montana. But the paw prints all over the car were dog. In both cases, it was reported that the target cat was unharmed. It took me little time to research and find out that we don't have to resort to crazy creature attacks to explain these events.
Monster mythology and imagery are so much fun and culturally relevant. Yet, I can't accept that monsters are roaming the neighborhood attacking humans or other animals. People like mysteries and interesting happenings. I understand that the truth is sometimes complicated or mundane. Whereas, sensationalism sells, for sure. However, what I DON'T get is why, after indulging in a little imaginative fun, people will overindulge and won't even entertain an answer based on the evidence.
Our society is highly technological, it runs on code and computers. Yet there is plenty of wild and fascinating stuff out there yet to discover. Sometimes, surprises pop up just down the road. Odds are, the weird event has a normal explanation. We're just missing bits and pieces to figure it out. The daily news is not the best place for the fantastic. Nor is this a good time to suspend rational thought. There are real world issues to solve -- like how to get this car repaired considering the insurance deductable. What if those dogs attacked kids or have a disease? Invoking a mysterious monster helps no one except to perhaps get you on TV and hype the local monster festival.
The world contains many real "monsters" and incredible stories. Only rarely is the mess made by real monsters. More often, it's a more down to earth cause, just the result of a bad dog. Not "Whoa, mysterious," but, "Oh, interesting."
Think about that poor cat hiding from Cujo out there. Put the Lizardman and chupacabra in their rightful place and call the dog catcher.