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Front Page » July 13, 2010 » Opinion » Leash or not, Fido may not belong
Published 1,593 days ago

Leash or not, Fido may not belong


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

I never write anything negative about dogs. They, in many ways, are the light of my life, even though at times cleaning their kennels and spending the money to feed, outfit and take care of them medically gets to be a burden.

But I will write negatively about owners; especially those that don't treat their animals right or abuse them. I also get concerned about people who think their family dog, outside of their yard, will be loved by everyone, regardless of the circumstances.

I recently got a letter from a resident (who did not want to be identified) concerning the number of dogs in the crowd at Pleasant Valley Days this year.

She said that she is a cat person, but has owned dogs she loved. She even had dogs that friends have that she likes. But with strange dogs she is terrified. She said she couldn't believe how many dogs there were at the celebration. Anyone who has been knows how crowded both the parade route and in particular, the small park in Scofield gets on the big day of celebration. Those tight quarters are usually not conducive to having dogs around, even on leashes.

She said along the parade route one owner even let their dog run loose and it was gobbling up candy off the road thrown by those in the parade, at times challenging small children for the same bits of sugar. A dangerous situation to be sure.

Now everyone who has a dog knows that it will get out of its house, its run or its yard at some point in time. But in this case the owner was there just talking to people while the dog ran loose.

Dogs in crowds, even on leashes are a danger. They can be stepped on and react with a bite or small kids could go to pet them and get hurt. Even friendly dogs can be startled.

While I didn't make it to the PV celebration this year, I have seen this kind of thing before. People think their dogs should go everywhere they go regardless of the circumstances. In some cases dogs just don't belong, particularly in large crowded venues. That can even be true at events that feature dogs as the main attraction.

Last winter I went to Park City to see the last stage of the Rocky Mountain Pedigree Sled Dog Race. I have been to it many times and each year I am always amazed the number of non-participants who bring their dogs to the race. I'm not sure what they are trying to do, but I think some of them think the mushers are interested in seeing what kind of dogs the fans have at home. Most of the mushers there bring at least 30 dogs with them and they are all chained to trailers and dog units in the parking lot. These people who attend with their animals walk them between the trailers and I have seen some near disastrous fights occur between sled dogs and domestic non-working dogs. The dogs that pull sleds competitively have little in common with Johnny's pretty Irish Setter or Suzie's petite Poodle. Yet people are stupid enough to think that these highly trained, energy filled, competitive and yes testosterone filled sled dogs can always get along peacefully with groomed and usually overfed house dogs that people prize.

I don't even take one of my sled dogs, because I know the problems those influences and distruptions can cause to the race participants.

So it can be a disaster in even in this animal type setting, where everyone loves dogs. With that in mind, imagine how it is in a crowd where there are people who fear dogs, children who have never had a dog and dogs on leashes who are the only family animal and not used to being around other dogs or groups of people. It really is the same as throwing a match in dry grass on the side of the road in the middle of July. It can be that explosive and dangerous.

Pet owners need to use common sense and recognize the potential problems at any venue they may attend.

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July 13, 2010
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