Guest editorial: Lots of time on trails and dogs haven’t been a problem |

Guest editorial: Lots of time on trails and dogs haven’t been a problem

James Hulse, Park City,

During the past year or so it seems like every week The Park Record has an article about someone getting attacked by an off-leash dog. I’ve lived in Park City many years and I know that in past years I did not see the volume of reported dog attacks in The Park Record that I do now. I understand more people and trails are now in Park City and probably more dogs. I say probably more dogs because I recall when it seemed like everyone in Park City had a dog with them. Most of them were not on a leash. You used to see people with their dogs in stores, restaurants and bars. You don’t see that anymore so perhaps there are actually fewer dogs in Park City.

Regardless, I’ve lived in seven states in the U.S. covering all the coasts and have been jogging probably every other day on trails in these states for many years. Let’s just say I’m very familiar with Medicare and now walk the trails rather than run. I’ve encountered thousands of dogs that were off leash and I’ve never had a problem and have never seen a problem with a dog off leash. Now what are the odds of that? Reading The Park Record and all the reported dog attacks over the past year you would think that’s impossible. I assure you it’s not. However, I have seen a few issues with dogs on leash. Generally these issues involve someone becoming tangled up in the leash.

I certainly don’t want to down play the impact of a dog attack or the fear of a dog attack. In Vietnam we had a couple trained attack dogs with my unit that were used to enter tunnels in advance of us going in and I’ve seen what a large trained attack dog can do. I just don’t know how I can spend so much time on trails and see so many dogs both on and off leash and never have seen a problem with a dog when I read almost weekly in The Park Record of another dog attack. It seems either dogs have become more aggressive or the reporting has changed.

It is my opinion that the percent of people in Park City who are concerned with dogs either on leash or off leash is small. That’s not to say this is not a problem that should be addressed. My suggestion is that a small number of trails in Park City should be off limits to all dogs and these off limit trails could be rotated each year to allow for trail diversity.

I also keep reading about the need for stricter leash laws, enforcement and penalties. I’m not sure how effective or necessary this is. People who are attacked by a dog already have substantial legal remedies in place against the dog’s owner. I’ve never seen The Park Record report on these consequences. This week there was another report of a dog attack in The Park Record. In this report it seems the dog’s owner was present and the person attacked reported the incident to the police. I would like to know what the police did to the owner of the dog and what civil action is taken by the person attacked. If I was ever attacked by a dog, I’d own the owner of the dog!