Let’s leash the owners | VailDaily.com

Let’s leash the owners

Tamara Miller
Vail CO, Colorado

I love dogs but I can’t stand dog owners.

Last week, I watched as a jogger on the path in Eagle Ranch nearly fell when a probably 60-pound black dog came bounding toward her at top speed. The dog’s tongue was hanging out of the side of its mouth. He just wanted to say hi, the owner told the jogger, who seemed so startled by the whole incident she quickly jogged away.

Here’s the thing: There’s a leash law in Eagle.

Here’s another thing: That law is so often ignored it’s easy to forget it exists.

And here’s the last thing: The people ignoring the law too often seem to be the people who own big dogs that love to sprint toward unsuspecting adults, children and other pets to “just say hi.”

I’ve come to realize there are certain values my adopted community of Eagle County holds dear. We adhere to a strong tenant of self-sufficiency, but when a friend or neighbor falls on hard times, we are willing to help out. We believe firmly that there are no friends on powder days, and that a day spent inside on a nice day is a travesty.

We also believe that we can always use voice control to control our dogs, even when they are off our property, that a dog’s happiness is as important as a child’s safety, and that our dogs are incapable of doing harm. Or at least some of us think that way.

That’s why I dodge dog poop in the grass around town and read stories about the outrage some dog owners have when town officials even consider more strictly enforcing laws that require all dogs be leashed on public property.

The injustice!

Look, leash laws are just as much about protecting people and other pets as they are about protecting the dog wearing the leash. Leashes better ensure that your dog will be under your control, that the only people who will interact with your dog are those who want to, and that your dog won’t, as even the best dogs sometimes do, bite or pounce and injure someone or something else.

They also help better ensure that your dog won’t get bit, won’t run out in the street and get hit by a car and won’t do something that can get you sued.

I really do like dogs. We used to have one. She was a 65-pound German Shepherd mix named Camille we adopted from the pound. She was loving, but had an uncontrollable tail. The more excited she got, the more likely something would get knocked off the coffee table. She loved kids, but didn’t trust other dogs. When we took her on walks, leashed and with a Gentle Leader looped over her nose, I would spend much of the walk trying to clear my mind of any fear that some unleashed dog might try to run up to her. Dogs can sense our fear, the vet told me, and that increases the likelihood that they will react in an effort to defend their owners.

When she died last spring unexpectedly, my husband and I were devastated.

Today, I am almost thankful. We have new neighbors next door, you see. They have a couple of dogs, little ones that can squeeze through just about anything. Twice, one of them has ran over to our deck, because it was unleashed, of course, and tried to squeeze through our deck posts and go after our cat in the house. All I can think is, “If Camille were still here, she would rip you apart.”

I hope those dogs will always be safe. Their owner’s kids love them.

I also hope their owner gets the sense of mind someday to realize that an unleashed dog is an uncontrollable dog, a dog that, despite all its cuteness is capable of getting hurt or doing the hurt.

They are dogs, after all.

Opinion/Projects Editor Tamara Miller can be reached at 748-2936, or tmiller@vaildaily.com.

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