A client recently told me a story that sent chills down my spine.
San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is home to several coyotes. They make it into the news now and then, and many people are delighted that such beautiful wild animals live in such an urban area.
My client and her dog (both shall remain nameless) were running in Golden Gate Park recently when the dog spotted a coyote. Instinct took over, and the domestic dog (who was not on a leash) started to chase the wild one.
My client frantically called her dog to return, but he was oblivious to her pleas. He chased the coyote through some trees and out of sight toward a road.
Immediately after that, my client heard the screech of a braking car, followed by a solid thump. She arrived on the scene in time to see the coyote limp away on three legs. The dog was not hurt.
My client and the driver of the car called San Francisco’s Animal Care and Control. An officer came to look for the injured coyote, but it could not be found.
This story is a tragedy for the coyote. It just as easily could have been a tragedy for my client and her dog. By sheer luck, it was not.
The moral is simple. Off-leash activity is a great deal of fun for dogs. But if you can’t rely upon your dog to respond to voice commands, you need to be selective about when and where you let him play free.
My client has vowed that she will never again take her dog running without a leash.