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Irresponsible Dog Owners Ruin Forest Tranquility and Cause Dog to Suffer

Irresponsible pet owners do a lot to ruin things for the rest of us. People who don't pick up their dog's feces give ammunition to...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Aug 12th 2009


Irresponsible pet owners do a lot to ruin things for the rest of us. People who don’t pick up their dog’s feces give ammunition to dog haters who would like to see canine companions barred from certain public areas. Improperly socialized dogs may engage in aggression that leads to front page news stories and ordinances outlawing certain breeds. People who abuse liberal dog policies contribute to the elimination of those policies.

Denise (that’s Buster’s mom) and I recently took our pal Buster camping in the Tahoe National Forest. The Tahoe National Forest is a paradise for people who love dogs and the outdoors. It has a remarkably liberal dog policy. Dogs are allowed, on leash, almost everywhere (there are a very small number of exceptions). Buster had the time of his life.

Sadly, some irresponsible people in one of the campgrounds where we stayed seemed determined to do everything in their power to undermine the National Forest’s dog policy.

We first encountered these people at a lake. Signs were posted clearly stating that no dogs were allowed within 100 feet of the lake. Their dog was swimming in the lake.

After they finished flaunting that rule, the couple tied their dog to a tree in their camp site and left for the rest of the day. Their dog evidently had severe separation anxiety. It barked incessantly for hours.

This bothered me on several levels. First, I knew that the neglected dog was suffering. Separation anxiety is not pleasant for the pet. Simply being tied to a tree and abandoned is not appropriate for any dog; a dog with separation anxiety will find this situation especially miserable.

Second, the barking was annoying. We had gone to the woods to enjoy tranquility. Instead we were serenaded with shrill, distraught barking for hours.

Finally, there is a high probability that someone else in the campground complained to the forest service about that dog. If the forest service receives enough complaints, dogs may one day be barred from the forest.

That would be truly unfortunate for responsible dog owners who follow the rules and properly care for their pets. My pal Buster enjoys camping. I’d hate to see that taken away.

Photo: Buster had fun even though we made him wear his hiking boots for part of the day.