A few years ago the newspaper I worked at received a press release from local police about a dog running loose that had been killed. The police couldn’t identify the dog and wanted to let the owners know the situation. The incident involved a dog that was running loose, the dog ran out into a busy intersection that I was familiar with, the dog was hit by a car, the dog had no collar and hence no tag, so no one knew who’s property it was.
Another fellow I worked with, or idiot as I like to call him, said, “That’s the driver’s fault, how could they do that?”
Sorry, idiot, you’re wrong. If a dog is running at large in violation of the bylaw and gets run over, that’s not the motorist’s fault. It’s the irresponsible dog owner’s fault.
This was a community that had a dog control bylaw, as most communities do. The dog control bylaw states no dog shall be running at large. Ever. Plus, all dogs require a collar and municipal tag. Why do communities require dogs be tied up, and have a tag at all times?
Reason one is that the bylaw requires a collar and tag so that everyone in the community knows who owns this dog. In the incident above, no one could even contact the owners.
Reason two, dogs can be dangerous. No, I’m not talking about your Shi Tzu or your Teacup Chihuahua, I’m talking about German Shepherds, Alaskan Malamutes, Great Pyrenees, pit bulls, mastiffs, Akitas and other large breeds. Large dogs, even a lone one, can seriously injure or kill a person, especially children. Now society has to deal with the cost of a dog attack, including the financial impact on the healthcare system and the pain and suffering to the victim. Totally avoidable and unnecessary.
Plus, the psychological effects of a dog attack on a kid can be serious. I’ve known people who were attacked by a dog when they were young, and they were terrified of dogs for the rest of their lives. It’s not fair that someone must live with that fear and anxiety because an irresponsible dog owner was too lazy to keep track of their property.
People aren’t the only ones at threat by dogs running at large. Cats are a favoured target of dogs, and a large dog can easily injure or kill a pet feline. The cat owner now has to fork out for possible vet bills or worse. Anyone who’s had heartbroken family members standing around a dead pet knows what I mean.
Other dogs are also threatened by canines running at large. A co-worker of mine at a previous newspaper was walking her dog on a hiking path. She had her collie on a leash, as was the requirement. Along the trail comes a lazy, irresponsible dog owner with his large Boxer running free. Out of the blue and for no reason, the Boxer attacked my friend’s dog and inflicted hundreds of dollars worth of injuries, including punctures in the eyelid, nostril and throat. The lazy, irresponsible Boxer owner made a lame comment such as, “No harm done,” and fled the scene, so my co-worker couldn’t even get his name to force him to pay the vet bills. Back home we call someone like that a “scumbag.”
Obviously, there are many reasons for dog control bylaws that don’t include violence, these are sometimes deceptively called nuisances. Defecation is a serious problem. Just ask anyone who uses municipal hiking trails or has a lazy, irresponsible dog owner walking a canine past their lawn. Decaying, steaming dog doo is not nice.
Barking isn’t fun to listen to. Dogs running at large in the neighbourhood barking for hours on end becomes tiresome.
There’s also the issue of destruction. Dogs can be very destructive, ranging from chewing to digging. Don’t underestimate them. One dog can do a lot of damage, and if you’re a lazy, irresponsible dog owner, your free-as-a-bird canine can cause a lot of harm to other people’s property.
It’s either have rules for dogs and their owners, or have a bylaw that states, “All dogs can run free into traffic, and any collisions caused are the fault of the motorists.”
I hope all you dog owners out there use your brain in a better fashion than the idiot I worked with.
Stu Salkeld is the editor of The Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.