Dogs on the loose |

Dogs on the loose

Nicole Frey
Preston Utley/Vail DailyCarol Lanes, left, and Caryn Goldberg of Vail hike on Davos Trail with their dogs Sunday in West Vail. The trail, which is on national forest land, has a posted leash law.

AVON – At a birthday party in Nottingham Park, Isabella happily bounded after her 11-year-old master, David Goodwin, as the dog and boy team investigated the Avon park’s waterways with other young friends.For the most part, Isabella, nicknamed Izzy, stayed with David, but every once in a while, something else would peak her interest, and Izzy would scramble away to investigate. Noticing her absence, David would call for her, and the blond pup would come running back.

“She’ll mostly stay with me, and I try not to keep her on a leash because she’s active,” David said. “She’s very nice, and I don’t think there should be leash laws because it’s not fair.”While letting his furry friend run free is against Avon law, it’s a common practice among dog owners, largely supported even by those who don’t own dogs.Getting hit by cars, attacked by wildlife or attacking people or other animals – dogs can get themselves into all sorts of dangerous situations wandering around un-leashed. But despite these threats, people are defending dogs’ rights to play untethered, even if it means breaking the law.

“Just because it’s the law doesn’t mean it’s a good idea,” said Gary Schenk, who has been asked to leash his dog by authorities in the past. “War isn’t a good idea, but people still do it. It’s not black and white. “I think it’s acceptable to have your dogs off-leash as long as you are responsible and have control over them,” he said. “They need to be able to run around and have a good time and get some exercise.”As Schenk stretched in front of his apartment adjacent to Nottingham Park, his dog Marty stayed close to him, but Tilly, a dog he was sitting for, disappeared around the building. “Around other people, it’s wise to have them on a leash,” Schenk continued while calling Tilly back to him. “If it’s appropriate, like on a hiking trail or late at night, it’s perfectly acceptable.”A few seconds later, Tilly returned.

Whizzing down an Avon bike path, Tennille Stork took a quick break to say voice control for dogs is good enough for her. “Bikers should always be in control, but it’s the owner’s responsibility if their dog gets hit,” she said. As the masses clamor for more canine freedom, dog trainer Mark Ruark, vehemently supports “responsible” pet ownership, which includes following the rules. “Dogs have too much freedom in public places,” he said. “I know it’s pretty severe sounding, but people need to obey leash laws. It’s for the dog’s protection and yours.” In his 21 years working with canines, Ruark has dealt with dogs that were hit by cars, smacked by porcupines, injured by broken glass, and he’s even heard of puppies carried off to their death by owls.Despite Izzy’s un-leashed state, David’s mother, Amy, said she expects animals to be leashed in public and explained Izzy was running free because her leash had broken earlier that day.”I trust David to keep her under wraps,” she said. “I’ve told him that if he can’t keep an eye on her, he needs to bring her right back. I think she’s OK.”Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or Vail, Colorado

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