Where I live, there is no leash law. There is a “nuisance law,” but local animal control is slack on enforcing much of anything. They stay busy with … well, honestly, I’m not sure WHAT they stay busy with.
The nuisance law is pretty open to interpretation, but it boils down to this: The animal must be on your property causing damage and must still be on the property once animal control arrives or there’s very little they can do. Combine the lax laws with rural living surroundings and you’ve got the makings of a disaster, at least in my opinion. Owners let their dogs run rampant without a second thought to the safety of their dogs or of others.
In my neighborhood, I’ve encountered several loose dogs on my walks. It makes it incredibly hard to keep my dogs on task when we’re walking. On several occasions, dogs have full-on charged us while we were on a walk. I’ve been bitten once, Remi was bitten, and Axle was almost bitten. Oddly enough, many of the owners look at me like I’m to blame. How dare I make their dogs run out in the road by walking by with my dogs? I just think it’s so sad that these owners think that they shouldn’t worry about keeping their dog contained simply because there’s no law saying they have to.
Just because there’s no law stating you have to keep your dogs leashed or safely contained on your property doesn’t mean you should just let them run wild. As a responsible pet owner, you should be concerned with the safety of your dogs, the safety of others, and also the impression you’re making as a dog owner. Just because you have a “friendly” or “well-behaved” dog doesn’t give you any more right to let your dog run free. Here’s why:
Depending on where you live, there are dangers all around you. I live in a rural neighborhood surrounded by acres of farm land, trees, and a nature preserve. There’s still plenty of traffic, particularly since the road I live on is a popular cut-through to get to another town. Cars, motorcycles, even semis zip by on a regular basis. If your dog is wandering through the neighborhood, it’s very likely that they could get hit. They could also be stolen or run away. Your dog could also be hurt by other loose dogs, or leashed dogs that they approach.
Even if your dog is “friendly,” not everyone else’s dog is. Your dog could easily cause a fight if he approached a reactive on-leash dog, or even a dog that is contained in his own yard.
Not everyone appreciates your dog chasing after them as they walk, even if the dog is merely curious. Also, not everyone is physically equipped to handle an onslaught of puppy love. Older people, pregnant women, and people with physical ailments would love to enjoy their exercise without fearing an exuberant, jumping dog.
Your dog could run away, someone could steal your dog, or some well-meaning citizen could mistake your dog for being a lost or stray dog and pick her up. When I first moved to my neighborhood, I nearly ran over a three-legged dog that was hobbling out of my front yard. He wasn’t wearing a collar, so I picked him up and took him to the vet to check for a microchip. He wasn’t chipped. I took him to animal control, and the owners reclaimed him within a few days. They were incredibly upset and didn’t understand why anyone would “just take” their dog when he had “roamed the neighborhood for years with no problem.” Well, that roaming, as it turns out, is what cost him one of his legs. Fortunately, they have since contained him in a fence.
Believe it or not, not everyone is a dog lover, and people don’t want to be bothered in their own yard by your dog. Dog lover or not, I certainly don’t appreciate it when other people’s dogs wander through my yard, making mine go nuts at the window or in the fence. I most certainly do NOT appreciate it when said dogs poop in my yard!
There are multiple ways to contain your dog — fences, kennels, trolleys, or in your house. It shouldn’t take a law for people to do the responsible thing.
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About Meghan Lodge: Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it’s in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of two dogs (one being very dumb) and one cat. I’m a former quiet nerd who’s turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.