A rant about bad dog owners
April 12, 2002
A number of letters have been published over the past several months regarding dog shootings, dogs off-leash on Smuggler, joggers tired of being chased by dogs and, of course, my own rants against irresponsible dog owners and their free attorneys, as well as a discourse on the horrible death my cat suffered in (ironically) the jaws of an unleashed dog owned by a reporter for this paper.
A paper which, incidentally, published a number of these letters. A paper which also had the questionable editorial taste to run a cartoon insinuating that only wealthy newcomers were objecting to feces-laden trails, parks and yards.
Now I come to read that not only have valley taxpayers forked out thousands for “dog parks,” but we have spent an additional $18,000 to dog-proof sections of fence along our newest trail corridors because dog owners still fail to keep their dogs leashed.
People, dog ownership is a lifelong responsibility few of you seem capable of committing to, so why in the hell are you committing to it?
Dog ownership consists of spaying and neutering unless they are show-quality purebreds. Responsible dog ownership consists of picking up after your dog for its entire lifetime, no matter where you may be, even in the woods. Dog feces don’t belong in the environment any more than people’s do.
No, you can’t compare it to coyotes or wolves, neither of which ever occurred in the populations or in the constant proximity to water that our domestic dogs do. Dog feces transmits disease to other dogs, contributes to fecal coliform and other pollutants in our streams.
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Dog waste is especially concentrated in the spring when water levels are low but feces-filled snow is beginning to melt. Dog urine and feces destroy landscaping; this is destruction of private property. Do you throw stones through your neighbor’s windows? Why then do you allow your dog to kill their grass and flowers?
Dog ownership consists of a lifetime of keeping your dog confined to your property; when it is not on your property it belongs on a leash or in one of the aforementioned dog parks. Dog parks for which communities have spent great deals of money, to develop and maintain. Dog parks in which it is common to see feces left behind by irresponsible dog owners (It seems dog owners don’t even respect each other).
You may believe that dogs should able to run “free.” If this is your belief, then I encourage you to gain the financial wherewithal to purchase a large piece of property for, in point of fact, laws preclude dogs from running free just about everywhere. If you are not prepared for this aspect of dog ownership then don’t go out and get one! Yes, even in the back of your pickup your dog, by law, needs to be restrained.
Dog ownership consists of a lifetime of care; no young children and few teenagers are of sufficient character to commit to this. We live in a society in which we have little enough time to care for and nurture our children.
Millions of neglected pets would indicate that way too many people make the mistake of thinking they “need” a pet when they don’t. Why get a pet only to have it live at the end of chain for the majority of its life? Why get a pet if you are not prepared to respect the laws pertaining to that pet? Why do you get a pet, then allow them to destroy public and private property?
Irresponsible dog owners do a grave injustice to the few owners that do leash AND pick up after their pets. (Some just leash.)
When I took my “freshly” mauled cat to the vet she commented that she had treated not one, but two unleashed dogs hit by cars in downtown Carbondale as their owners sat sipping coffee a few feet away. Ya see folks, these laws aren’t just to protect my lawn, they are to protect the dogs as well. Dog ownership means understanding the fact that, in spite of years of anthropomorphizing them, they are still just dogs.
As puppy and kitten season rolls around, I sincerely hope that would-be dog owners give pause for thought to their prospective acquisitions. Is your yard big enough? Do you have the time? Do you understand that some “big” breeds have short lifespans and often spend the last few years of their lives in a great deal of pain due to their susceptibility to debilitating diseases?
Do you understand that many breeds (Dalmatians come to mind) just don’t make very good family dogs? Do you understand that some breeds are more vicious than others? Do you understand that breeds such as Rottweilers and pit bulls are far more likely to cause unintended injuries on people and other animals than, say, many of the working breeds?
When we have children we are prepared to change diapers for a year or two. If we make the decision to get a dog are we equally prepared to deal with its waste for its lifetime?
Mountain towns are well known for being “dog towns.” Mountain towns are also well known for an influx of urbanite refugees; refugees that would have never considered allowing their dogs to run free in the city allow them to run free in the town. Why? It is no safer; it is no less against the law.
Irresponsible dog owners have brought about the banishment of dogs from trails. This is a slap in the face to responsible dog owners.
I will say this to Pitkin County: I live in Carbondale. Right in the middle of my neighborhood lies a substantial park clearly marked “no dogs or glass containers,” yet daily there are dogs in the park.
If you are failing to enforce leash laws on the trails I find it highly unlikely you will be able to enforce your dog ban. I would highly encourage an enforcement officer on the trails now; they will pay for themselves in fines and fence.
Due in small part to leash-less dog injuries incurred by my family, Carbondale police have been forced to crack down on at-large dogs and enforce leash laws. I would encourage county and municipal governments throughout the valley to follow suit.
It is ludicrous that the air of anarchy with regards to dog laws that pervades this valley has now cost taxpayers $18,000 tax dollars! Nuff said. Enforce the laws you already have and don’t penalize responsible dog owners because you have been remiss in years past with leash enforcement.
As a Carbondale official said to me, “Police pay attention the squeaky wheel.” Well I’d say an $18,000 fence to control lawbreakers’ dogs is a pretty squeaky wheel.
Write some tickets boys, and not just on the trails …