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Friday, March 2, 2012

Editorial Rant

  Oh, how I hate to feel 'ranty'. I MUCH prefer to turn up the volume on the ridiculous side of life, and just jam out to that station, but sometimes a good rant is good for the soul. And of course, it's more of the same: Some idiot had their untrained dog running loose at the park yesterday, and of course, aforementioned canine had to make a beeline straight into Murphy's face. This is where I thank God once again for the inherent kindness and stability present in the heart of The Big Pinscher. It was ultimately a non-event (unless you were Murphy) but it PISSED ME OFF. I apologize for being so blunt, but the owner's response did nothing to appease me, either.  So, I wrote to the local paper. I don't know if what I wrote will ever see print, but at least I did something.

Here is what I wrote:

I am a South Burlington resident and have been for about four years. I have been a Vermont resident for most of my life. I love the dog-friendly environment of my home state, but am quite dismayed at the number of people who fail to comply with the leash laws in our local parks. I am a disabled person who works with a service dog and I have had a very difficult time finding a safe place to exercise my dog where he isn't interfered with in some way by off-leash pets. I don't have a yard, so I depend on public spaces. My dog was viciously attacked by an off-leash pet (while the owner shouted "he's friendly" from about twenty feet away) a couple of years ago on a Burlington bike path and it really impacted both his life and mine for about two years (and continues to do so to a lesser degree). Since then, every time somebody's loose dog runs up to him and gets in his face, it traumatizes him yet again (I liken it to someone suffering an assault, and then being approached in the same manner repeatedly and without warning). I do my part by avoiding dog parks and public parks that don't employ a leash ordinance, but even then I can't avoid the onslaught and I'm beyond tired of it. And it isn't just me who's tired of it. There are lots of us, and in fact I believe we are the majority of the dog-owning public.
I was at a local park just yesterday and had somebody's off-leash pet get in my dog's face. Again. When I pointed out that there was a leash law, the owner replied "Yeah, I know but nobody pays attention to it". How is that okay? What about folks with dogs who are fearful or aggressive? ALL dogs need to be walked, not just friendly ones. Where are they supposed to go? What about people who might otherwise enjoy the park, but are afraid of dogs? What about people like me who respect the laws and need others to do what they are supposed to do so that we ALL can enjoy public spaces? How is this fair? Unfortunately, it seems that people subscribe to the misconception that if their dog is friendly (or more accurately, if they think their dog is friendly), it's perfectly okay to let them run around loose. It's not. It's not safe for the dog, it's not fair to other people and the idea that "it's okay to break the law because everybody else does it" is not okay. Those of us who respect the laws are tired of paying the consequences for those of you who can't be bothered. For more information about how irresponsible dog ownership effects others, please go to:
K. Smart
What do YOU think?


  1. I totally agree...and I totally disagree. I think it's extremely important for dogs to have off-leash time. It's important for them to have time to act like a dog. It is ALSO important, however, for dog owners to be aware of their surroundings and to train their dogs well enough so that this sort of thing does not happen. I often let my dogs, Cody and Lollie, run off leash in public places. However, I also make sure that when we see another dog (and often other people) both dogs return to me. Sometimes this means I put the leash back on them so they don't disturb others. Sometimes this means I just keep them close until I've asked the other dog owner if they can approach. It's a shame that some irresponsible dog owners, who obviously can't control their dogs, ruin it for the rest of us. I hope things work out for you!

    1. I agree about dogs needing off-leash time, but in an appropriate place. We have many public parks and dog parks that allow and encourage off-leash exercise.

      The problem occurs when dogs are allowed to run off-leash in places where there are LEASH LAWS. It's never, ever okay to break the law. Unfortunately the people who think it's okay to ignore leash laws are usually the same folks that don't bother to train their dogs :-(