Park City probes violent clash between cyclist, man with off-leash dogs
The Park City Police Department said it is investigating a report of a violent confrontation between a bicyclist and a person with dogs off leashes last week, a case that could attract attention as it touches on the largely unrelated but nonetheless tense issues of bicycling etiquette and leash laws.
The Police Department received the report at 4:53 p.m. on Aug. 16. The confrontation occurred on the McLeod Creek trail between Meadows Drive and Holiday Ranch Loop Road, a short route that is popular with people who live in Park Meadows.
Phil Kirk, a police captain, said the police were told a man was walking two medium-sized dogs off leashes on the trail. The man saw a bicyclist headed toward him. He called for the dogs to return as the bicyclist yelled at him about the off-leash pets, Kirk said.
The owner yelled at the bicyclist, telling the rider the two dogs are friendly, Kirk said. That prompted the person on the bicycle to turn around to confront the dog owner, he said.
The bicyclist attacked the man with the dogs, punching him and knocking him to the ground, the captain said.
“He was agitated and came at him,” Kirk said.
The dog owner got up and argued with the bicyclist, telling the person he should have called the police if he was worried about the off-leash dogs, according to Kirk. The bicyclist rode away in the southbound direction. The dog owner went to the nearby Park Avenue police station to report the confrontation. He suffered a slight injury to a wrist and a pair of reading glasses was broken, Kirk said.
Kirk said the bicyclist is white and between the ages of 20 and 25. He is approximately 5 feet, 10 inches tall and was wearing a blue bicycling outfit.
The Police Department is investigating the case as a possible assault with the bicyclist as the suspect, Kirk said. He said the Police Department, though, is not investigating a potential violation of leash laws, explaining the police were not called to the scene to investigate a possible offense of that nature.
“Even if he was in violation of the leash law, that’s not cause for physical assault,” Kirk said.
The case on the McLeod Creek trail highlights long-running strains among dog owners who keep their pets on leashes, those who do not, bicyclists and hikers. It is rare, though, that a confrontation leads to physical violence like the one on Aug. 16.
Leash laws are in effect throughout Park City with the exceptions being off-leash areas designated at the Library Field and Round Valley. Off-leash dogs, though, are oftentimes seen in Park City outside of the two designated areas, including on trails.
Leash laws remain one of Park City’s divisive issues even after the years of encounters, the creation of the off-leash areas and advocates pressing for responsible dog ownership. Dog owners see the opportunity to walk or run their pets off leashes as fitting with the community’s mountain-town vibe, while people who are concerned with the practice want to enjoy the city’s recreation opportunities without the harassment of an unleashed pet.
Anybody with information about the Aug. 16 confrontation may contact the Police Department at 615-5500.
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