EDITORIAL: Reminder – Control your dog

It's tempting to let dogs run loose, but not everyone shares your trust of your pet

One minute, the older lady on the phone was fine.

The next minute, she was crying.

The next, she was hysterical.

You couldn’t hear exactly what was going on on the other end of the line, but the woman was talking to someone, a man, begging for him to get away.

The man had been walking a large dog without a leash and it was headed her way. The woman was afraid the big dog would attack her little dog.

It wasn’t a pit bull. It was just a big dog, not under direct control of its owner, that frightened — and therefore threatened — the terrified lady.

The man apologized, gathered up his dog, and walked the other direction. (Some people aren’t so nice.) The woman scooped up her dog and went inside.

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve published several letters to the editor detailing someone walking their dog or walking with their child when another dog, unleashed, came along.

In one case, a pit bull recently ran out of a yard and attacked a Niskayuna couple’s dog near Central Park in Schenectady, latching onto it for 30-40 seconds before some landscapers rushed over and pried it off.

In another letter, the writer recalled many years ago having to carry a baseball bat to walk his kindergartner to the bus stop because someone would let their pit bulls run loose.

Another writer described seeing many dogs running loose in local parks, posing a threat to other dogs and kids.

We understand it’s been a long winter and that dogs need their exercise. And we know that most dogs behave themselves, even around other dogs.

But even if your dog isn’t one of the stereotypical dangerous breeds, even if it’s a big friendly Labrador or a happy-go-lucky boxer that’s just curious, it still poses a threat when it’s off its leash.

It still has the ability, by sheer size or active nature, to intimidate, to make people feel unsafe for themselves, their pets or their children. All a big dog has to do is knock an elderly person or child off his or her feet to cause an injury.

There’s no statewide leash law. But there are state laws that outline liability for people who recklessly allow their dogs to run loose and wreak havoc. In many cities, violators are subject to fines and other penalties.

Local dog laws vary, but many require dogs to be restrained by an adequate collar and leash, or be under voice control, and many prohibit dogs from being loose near playground equipment; to chase dogs, people or cars; or to otherwise cause someone to be intimidated or reasonably feel threatened. 

We know you love your dog. But as a dog owner, you have a responsibility to others to keep your pet under control at all times and not allow it to frighten, threaten or attack others who might not share your trust in your pet. 

So enjoy the spring weather; it’s long overdue.

But also let others enjoy it by controlling your dog.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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