I was saddened to read about the death of the puppy who was attacked by two other dogs in Westerly Creek Park (in the May Front Porch). Unfortunately, it was not a surprise. It was entirely predictable—and in my opinion, preventable. As you mentioned, dogs must be leashed and under the control of the owner.
As someone who walks or runs daily on the Stapleton trails, I also encounter dogs and dog owners daily. A few owners have their dogs properly leashed, are aware of the people around them, keep their dogs under control, and observe good etiquette.
Many, however, use extension leashes and seem to be completely unaware of the fact that the dog is NOT under their control. They are oblivious as to where their dogs are in relation to people around them. For example, they have three dogs on extension leashes that take up the entire sidewalk—each dog running in a different direction, and each leash entirely blocking the sidewalk. Runners, walkers and cyclists are forced to move, change their pace, stop, swerve, or dismount. It is an extreme hazard for cyclists. Three dogs on extension leashes are clearly not under an owner’s control. The leash cannot be retracted quickly enough to avoid unexpected hazards. If you want to use the extension leash, step off the sidewalk and walk the dogs in the grass where you have more latitude. Or, go to the “off leash” park.
I also witnessed a leashed dog lunge and bite a skateboarder who passed. It knocked the skateboarder off his board, and he was so frightened he grabbed his board and ran. The attack was completely unprovoked, and the owner was totally shocked.
Another disturbing sight is young children walking dogs who are as large as or larger than they are. There is no way that those dogs are under the control of the owner. Similarly, in the above-referenced puppy attack, the owner attached the leashes to his or her waist and was dragged by the dogs. Yes, it takes a lot of strength to manage large dogs. Know your limitations.
And then, of course, there are the scofflaws who think the law does not apply to them and do not even bother to leash their dogs. I pass at least one of those daily. And of course, I have seen those very dogs suddenly run into the street in front of oncoming cars, or lunge at other dogs. Those dogs are also at risk of coyote attacks.
Dog owners: you may think that your dog is friendly, or won’t run, bite, or lunge—but you do not know that for sure. For the love of your dog and the safety of those around you, please use leashes, know that at all times the dogs must be under your control, and please be aware of cyclists, runners and walkers who may appear suddenly when you are daydreaming.
Let’s work together to make this a healthier, safer community.
Sharon Cairns Mann
Homeowner and Resident, Stapleton