Werner: Summit County dog owners should exercise restraint, take responsibility
April 26, 2014
I first met Larry and Guss when my husband and I were walking our two dogs one morning.
Enjoying the quiet, our tranquility was rudely interrupted by two large dogs charging us. Immediately, turmoil set in: They circled our restrained dogs and barked uncontrollably at us. "Where is their owner," I asked my husband, trying to control the situation, when I saw a gentleman in the distance walking toward us, undisturbed.
I called over to him: "Excuse me, are these your dogs, can you call them?" The man continued to walk without responding. "Hello," I started, with increasing frustration, "can you call your dogs?" The man yelled: "Larry, Guss over here!" — cursing them as they approached; the East Coast accent was noticeable. Wildly waving the Wall Street Journal around as if he was swatting flies, he continued to walk. He had no leash. They ignored him, just as he ignored us, and again ran off barking, while their owner passed us by in silence.
In disbelief our conversation turned to dog owners who act as if dog regulations do not apply to them and apparently see no benefits in training. Annoyed, we continued our walk when I noticed that our dogs had begun to pursue their new favorite pastime: sniffing out those smelly little plastic bags, known as "mutt mitts," used for cleaning up dog feces. These baggies litter walkways and our dogs take great pride in aiming precisely to mark each one. When their behavior started, I considered correcting them, but then felt a strong desire to throw these bags at the people who leave them. Somehow the marking relieves my frustration with culprits who leave them. Exactly who is it they leave these bags for, I wonder?
Recently, while driving, I noticed another pair of dogs running through the woods, near Highway 6. I feared for their lives, envisioning a dog-car collision, while they disappeared from my sight. Another irresponsible owner somewhere who didn't confine them, I thought.
Flashing lights of two Keystone security vehicles greeted me in our parking lot. Four people were trying to catch Larry and Gus — yes, them again! They had overturned several trash bins and trash was scattered everywhere. I jumped out of my car and mentioned my previous encounter with Larry and Gus, but didn't know where their owner resides. One of the security staff phoned the sheriff's office to dispatch an animal control officer. I heard both dogs spent the afternoon raiding bins in the area, resulting in several complaints. Larry and Gus now involved four security people, one sheriff and two animal control officers, while their owner probably read the Wall Street Journal or enjoyed some skiing.
As an animal shelter volunteer and dog owner, I'm appalled by irresponsible dog owners. The word "responsibility" has dropped out of some people's minds. Local laws and regulations are meant for all of us.
Lastly, many dogs in shelters end up there because of irresponsible owners. They arrive as "strays," or are surrendered as "out of control" by owners who didn't realize the 10-15 year dog commitment. People who ignore basic dog needs impose on others when dogs become unmanageable. Why is it deemed acceptable to let dogs run wild, leave poop bags everywhere and tie dogs outside and allow continuous barking?
People who lack time for a dog should consider a hamster, or even fish.
Bea Werner has lived in Colorado for 30 years. She lives in Keystone. She is an outdoors enthusiast, animal lover and animal rights advocate.
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