Carrying a Big Stick

A city council member told me that they finally got a leash law finalized, with hefty fines laid out for people who let their dogs run loose, and it’s about time. Actually, it’s way past time, considering all the problems with dogs around here.

A lot of people turn their dogs loose at night to forage for themselves, which seems bizarre to me. If you want dogs, you take care of them. What’s worse is the damage these dogs can do. A woman who lived not too far from me was mauled by a pit bull, and nothing happened to the owner of the dog, but the woman’s husband was arrested for shooting the dog to save his wife’s life.

One woman took care of her dog, but still let it run loose. She told me, “If I were a dog, I’d rather be able to run free even if I get hit by a car.” Well, that dog did get hit by a car. So did her next dog. And apparently, the third dog (the third since I’ve been here) was also hit by a car because I met the guy who ran it down. He simply couldn’t stop in time. (When he told me he was the one who ran down the dog, I asked if he’d swerved, and he said he didn’t have time. Which is good. I learned early in my driving career that you never swerve to avoid a cat or a dog or a small animal. One of my teachers did so, and because the road was icy, she lost control of the car. She was maimed, and her passenger was killed.)

Some people around here chain their dogs outside because they don’t have a fence, and though one man told me the chain was perfectly safe, I found that same man wandering around the neighborhood one day looking for the dog’s collar and chain, because the dog had broken free. Luckily, chaining dogs will be illegal.

Since I’ve been here, I’ve only had one bad incident where a dog tried to bite the back of my knee. Generally, when I am out walking, I go along the streets where there aren’t any dog problems. Hopefully, this new leash law will help, though the truth is, leash laws don’t necessarily help prevent injuries and intimidation by dogs running loose — I was bitten on a hiking trail once that did require dogs to be leashed. The dog owner blamed me for the attack because she said hers was such a friendly dog, and had never done anything like that before. Apparently, she had it in her head that the trail was for dog walkers only despite signs that clearly marked it as a hiking trail, and clearly stated that dogs must be leashed.

Still, a law allows some sort of recourse, so that in the case of the woman mauled by the pit bulls, the dog owner might be arrested and not the husband.

As for me, I’ll still be careful, and I’ll still carry a big stick — a walking stick. And maybe I’ll invest in a suit of armor.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.