Warning, he might use pepper spray
July 22, 2008
Somebody recently posted fliers warning dog owners of Bob Berube, the Park City man who has twice shot unleashed dogs with pepper spray, a sign of the tension that still festers between Berube and dog owners two months after the second encounter.
The Mountain Trails Foundation, which manages the Rail Trail, reports finding two of the fliers on the popular trail on Saturday. The Park City Public Works Department said it found two at Prospector Park and four at City Park.
Carol Potter, the executive director of the foundation, said one of the fliers was discovered on the Lost Prospector trail, which climbs into the mountains from the Rail Trail.
In big, bold letters, the fliers have the headline ‘Warning.’ They have a picture of Berube wearing sunglasses and his phone number. The flier resembles the style of law enforcement ‘Wanted’ signs.
"This man has been known to pepper spray off-leash dogs. Please protect your dogs and leash them if you see this man," the flier reads.
Berube, who had not seen the signs until Monday, said he received a call on Saturday night from someone inquiring if he was involved in the pepper spray episodes. The call surprised him, he said.
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"It certainly is harassment aimed at the innocent party," Berube said.
Berube said he is unsure how the maker of the flier obtained a picture of him. He said the photo might have been taken at City Park on Independence Day. Berube did not pose for the photo, and he said he was talking with someone when it was taken.
Berube in May and in late March shot unleashed dogs with Halt!, a brand of pepper spray that advertises itself as a dog repellant. The two cases occurred on the paved trail on the edge of City Park.
Berube has said the dogs made him nervous when they approached him. When they got too close, he shot them with the pepper spray. In the second case, Berube said, the person with the dog hit Berube in the lower chest.
He said there has not been a case since the second one, and he continues to walk on Park City’s paths and trails. Berube said people are spreading erroneous information about the two incidents, including a claim that Berube shot a leashed dog with pepper spray. The person who called Berube on Saturday night inquired about that rumor.
"She actually made the claim I had sprayed a dog on a leash," Berube said, adding, "People are making up a lot of stories that are way far from the truth."
Berube said he has also heard a rumor that he called the two dogs to him before he sprayed them. That is false, he said.
The pepper sprayings have been widely publicized in Park City, and they have spurred Internet chatter, with some people supporting Berube and others reviling him as a vigilante. The fliers are worded mildly compared to some of the online talk. Berube has quickly become one of Park City’s most polarizing figures.
Leash laws have long been controversial in Park City, and there are often bad feelings between dog owners and others, particularly in the spring and summer. The dog owners say their pets should be allowed to be off leash in Park City’s mountainous setting. But others claim not all dogs behave, and they should not be confronted by a loose dog. Park City and surrounding Summit County have leash laws.
Potter, from the Mountain Trails Foundation, said the fliers surprise her, calling them "pretty bold." She said she prefers a more polite approach to encouraging people to use leashes. Still, Potter said, more Parkites seem to be leashing their dogs in the past few years.
"I’m seeing more dogs on leashes in the last year or two than before," she said.