Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Some of My Neighbors Are Not the Best Pet Owners

Leash LawImage by Boyce Duprey via Flickr

Since when did obeying the law become optional?

Our society works because the majority of us obey the law. Yet I have noticed a disturbing trend among my neighbors when it comes to their pets. Apparently, they pick and choose which laws to obey and the laws governing pet ownership appear to be optional in my neighborhood. Yes, once again I am talking about the leash law and securing your dog(s) on your property.

This time we encountered an off-leash and unaccompanied German Shepherd on our walk. Although we took evasive maneuvers and immediately changed our path to avoid an encounter with the dog, the dog started following us. So I asked Robert to use the Pet Corrector Pet Behavioral Training Aid we carry with us to help modify our own dogs' behavior. It startled the German Shepherd and the dog fell back but still kept following us. It kept pace with us for about a block and a half before it broke away.

I talked to my friend about the encounter when we got home. She, of course, had a totally different take on the situation. She said the dog just wanted us to read the tag on it's collar so we could help it get back home. Knowing my friend, she would have bounded up to it, hand extended, wanting to pet it, because this is the kind of dog-loving person she is.

As for me, I have a healthy fear of big dogs. My 16 pound toy poodle Brunswick picks up on this and does his best to defend me. I am trying very hard to overcome my fear of big dogs and one of the ways I am doing this is by taking him to training classes at PetsMart. Currently we have a half standard poodle, half sheep dog in our class--Winston is a very big dog. But I can face my fear there because: 1) Winston is on leash, 2) his owner is in control of him, 3) Winston has becoming familiar to us over the past four weeks and 4) the trainer is there to help teach all of us how to correct bad behaviors if the dogs do get into a scuffle.

So really, the issue isn't my fear of big dogs. The real issue is my neighbors who don't seem to able to follow the law. In searching for advice on how to handle an encounter with a stray dog, I found someone who lives in my community who has encountered so many stray dogs on his bicycle commutes to work that he posts YouTube videos of them. He actually carries dog food around with him when he is on his bike. Check out his videos, which he calls The Stray Dog Chronicles:

You see, I am not the only one aware of this problem.

I called Animal Services when I got home to report the stray dog and it's not because I want the dog to go to the Animal Shelter and get put down. It's because I want the people entrusted with enforcing the Animal Care and Welfare laws to know that there is a problem in my neighborhood. This is not the first time I have called and, sadly, it probably won't be the last.

I don't want to be the neighborhood animal police, but I also don't want to have to be fearful every time I go on a walk with my dogs that we will have yet another encounter with an off-leash, unattended dog. We have been lucky so far that nothing has happened, but I worry because I know of at least two dog-on-dog attacks that have occurred in the past year in my neighborhood.

And let's not forget that I am disabled and walking my dogs using mobility scooter.

Luck is a terrible plan. Since, as my friend pointed out, I have no control over what my neighbors do and don't do, I need to give some thought to bigger and better dog deterrents that I can carry with me when I go walking with my dogs. After last night, I'm thinking of buying an air horn to scare off potential doggie trouble.

Agree with me? Disagree with me? Let me know by leaving me a comment!

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