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Is it really? Apparently, many dog owners seem to think so. I love dogs, and have two precious rescues of my own. They are wonderful companions, though not without their quirks – and as much as we train them – they’re still dogs, and in this instance, like people, they often times have a mind of their own. They like some dogs, and not others - they like some toys, and not others. They uniformly chase squirrels and ducks, and sniff things I couldn’t (and wouldn’t want to) imagine. They each have their own personality, their own likes and dislikes, and while we’d love dogs that always listened to us, we respect their individual personalities, and within limits, like to let dogs be dogs.
With that in mind, when they are out in public with us or in any area where they may encounter people and other dogs that is not a dog park – they’re on a leash. This is out of concern for their safety, and out of respect for other dog owners – though our dogs are friendly, other owners do not know this, and there may always be the one time when they decide they don’t like another dog after they meet him or her, or vice versa. Proponents of off leash dogs possibly have not experienced or witnessed some of the things I have – my own girl being chased by an off leash dog, until the owner finally caught up with us with sincere apologies. Another time in a situation where the caretaker thought the dog was trustworthy; she was attacked leading to a visit to the emergency room. Dogs being dogs, most dogs will want to meet another dog when they see him/her, but the sight of an off leash dog running full sprint and head on at us, is always terrifying – we can’t ascertain the temperament of the dog until it is already upon us, and we cannot escape. Dogs running into the street, dogs chasing squirrels, not returning when called and getting lost, friendly dogs running up to other dogs and getting attacked themselves – what, truly, is the price of a dog’s freedom? His or her life?
There’s loss of freedom from another perspective, as well. We often like to walk our dogs on the American River Trail. It’s beautiful, and we all enjoy it as a family. One beautiful spring day, we had to turn around three times, until we were finally forced off the trail and path we were on, due to constantly running into off leash dogs. We felt as if we lost a little of our own freedom that day. Other people taking liberties because they trust their own dogs meant that we didn’t have the liberty to walk ours where we wanted to.
The human race has chosen to domesticate dogs, and with that choice comes responsibility – the responsibility to respect and protect your pets, and when possible, others. There are areas that are designated for dogs to be able to run off leash and experience the freedom they love – to run and play – and at dog parks you make a choice as do the other owners to take a chance that all dogs will get along – there are also remote areas where a dog can be taken off lead without the possibility of running into people or other dogs, there are even places you can rent that have acres and acres for the dog to run. With that in mind, why risk their freedom or life by having them off lead in public spaces, while similarly taking away the freedom of others?
The following link contains information about Sacramento leash laws:
To those people whose dogs are 100% predictable and controllable at all times without fail or question, with my apologies please disregard.