Loose dog apparently pepper sprayed on Rail Trail | ParkRecord.com

Loose dog apparently pepper sprayed on Rail Trail

Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

Someone apparently pepper sprayed a dog on the Rail Trail on Sunday evening, the Park City Police Department was told, another in a string of cases during the spring involving a dog off leash.

The police received the report at 6:33 p.m., approximately one hour after the incident. Phil Kirk, a police captain, said the encounter occurred on the Rail Trail as it passes the vicinity of Sidewinder Drive.

Limited details about the incident were available. Kirk said the owner of the dog, a 44-year-old woman from Wallsburg, contacted the Police Department. She told the police she let her dog off a leash while she was running on the Rail Trail.

Kirk said the dog owner did not see the man use pepper spray against her dog. Kirk said the woman did not provide details about what led her to suspect pepper spray was used. She also did not provide details about the dog’s behavior immediately afterward, he said. The police report did not include details about the breed of the dog.

The woman told the police she did not want to pursue charges against the man, Kirk said, but it is not clear what sort of criminal case could have been brought against him. Kirk said a person is allowed to use pepper spray against a dog if they feel threatened.

The incident is reminiscent of a small number of similar cases in Park City in 2008. Those pepper sprayings, also involving off-leash dogs, received widespread publicity and sparked debate about leash laws in Park City. The police determined the man who pepper sprayed the dogs acted in self-defense.

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Park City laws require that dogs be on leashes in public places in the city limits. Dogs, though, are regularly seen off leashes in Park City. Leash laws are one of the community’s divisive issues, pitting dog owners who want to let their pets run free against others who are uneasy with loose dogs.

The Police Department last week received at least two other complaints involving dogs. On Saturday, May 23, the police were called to the Rail Trail in the vicinity of Paddington Drive at 11:01 a.m. after someone encountered a loose dog. Police logs indicated the dog caused problems for bicyclists and followed the person who contacted the Police Department. It was a small dog with white fur, the police were told.

On Monday, May 18 at 10:40 p.m., a police officer saw a dog running away from its owner on Daly Avenue. The officer assisted the dog owner capture the pet, the police said.

The Police Department recently started conducting leash-law operations targeting people who allow their dogs to run free in the city. The operations are conducted alongside Summit County Animal Control.

Kirk said the operations will be scheduled regularly during the summer. A Tuesday operation focused on City Park and the field outside the Park City Library and Education Center, two popular places for dog owners to bring their pets off leashes.

The incidents during the spring have included dog bites, leash-law violations and a dog attack that ended when the victim climbed a tree to get away from the dog.

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