Guest editorial: Be responsible, pet owners, because other people’s safety is on the line
We’re all here either because we were lucky to be born here or we found this place. Not a native but a long-term resident, I am amazed at what is happening to our home. There are so many people now and lots of dogs too. Some are well behaved and some — let’s just say no one made an effort to train them. There’s been a lot of chatter recently on Nextdoor about off-leash dogs during the pandemic. It has nothing to do with the pandemic and everything to do with what should be common behavior. While riding my bike, I once encountered an approaching man with an off-leash dog walking in a straight line on its side of the trail about 10 to 15 feet ahead of him. Whether a dog or pedestrian or another rider I encounter, it’s my practice to slow down as a common courtesy. He might have whistled but I saw him snap his fingers and the dog instantly heeled. That’s a dog that never needs to be leashed and an owner that cares about the safety of his dog and maybe even has respect for others! Once you decide to have a pet you are responsible for everything for that animal and everything that it does just like a child.
Once an avid skier, my terminally ill wife and I lived in the Prospector neighborhood. Walking being the only exercise left to her, we had an evening practice of walking on the paved trail to the Post Office on Main Street. While doing so, we saw a couple in the distance off the trail on the grass to our left with two off-leash dogs by their sides. The two dogs, not in a threatening manner unless you’re on blood thinners and have skin-like tissue paper, ran toward us. The woman called to them, one returned, the other did not. I stopped it with halt. She approached me and punched me in the chest and my wife was in hysterics. The woman was charged with assault and had to hire a lawyer. I’ve managed to land on the front page of The Park Record twice. I’ve been jumped on five times in Park City, once by a dog large enough to put his front paws on my shoulders, never bitten except for a shredded ski glove once.
I have structural issues from decades-old injuries with multiple surgeries and choose to live here because of the healthy lifestyle that keeps me moving. No one has the right to deprive me or anyone else of that. If you’re going to ride with your dogs, hook them to your bike. There are devices specifically for that purpose. If anyone gets knocked off their bike it should be you!
This is no longer the town we would like to think it to be. It’s a rapidly growing city and the most important thing to remember about this amazing trail system out our doors is that it’s public. We all have the right to full use and the safety that should allow. Human rights come before those of your dog, and if you feel it’s imperative that your dog run free, then buy a place in the wide open and let it do so there. If your dog doesn’t return to you when called without fail or hasn’t been trained to heel, you need to leash it on the trail.
Call me a vagabond but my choice to have no pets is incredibly liberating. That’s my right! Not interested in making friends with your dog, don’t want it sniffing my crotch, depositing its hair on my clothes, wandering into my bike’s path and especially not jumping on me. Either you’re not aware of how dangerous a wandering or aggressive dog is to a cyclist or you just don’t care! I have also seen small groups of people, sometimes with several dogs, deep in conversation completely unaware what the dogs are doing. Wandering back and forth across the trail following their noses, chasing wildlife and leaving presents for others while you’re blissfully unaware. Stop being selfish, have some respect and let’s all enjoy the ability to recreate in a safe manner for a long time.
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A reader writes in a guest editorial that more communication from health officials is needed as the pandemic continues.