For the past week, I’ve been doggy sitting for a family member. The dog, a Bouvier, is a great and generally well-behaved dog that is rarely any trouble. The only concern is that he is difficult to control when he sees small, wild animals (e.g. squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, etc.) because he wants to chase them and tells you he does with his entire 100 pound frame. He’s not aggressive at all, but since he’s an only dog that hasn’t been overly socialized, he can be a bit excitable around other dogs. Anyway, that’s the back story.
I was walking the dog this morning, and about 1/4 of the way through, I heard a grunt come from some bushes. It sounded like a quiet dog bark, but after looking around as I walked past the bushes, I couldn’t see anything. I kept going on my way.
About 15 minutes later, I went past the same area, but I was on the other side of the road. In the general area where I heard the noise come from, I saw what I think was a Basset Hound (or similar breed). The dog was unleashed with no owner in sight, and it started crossing the road and walking (more like hobbling) towards me and my dog. My dog started whining at me and pulling as the dog kept walking towards us. I sped up the pace at which I was walking away from the other dog while monitoring its distance and trying to keep my dog in check.
After the dog had crossed the road and walked 10 or 20 feet along the sidewalk, the owner finally came out calling for her dog. The calls were completely half-assed, she hobbled without any pace/urgency, and the dog clearly had no respect for its owner as it completely disregarded the calls. I yelled to the person, “Where’s your dog’s leash?! Your dog is supposed to be on a leash! Come get your damn dog!” With a completely oblivious tone, she said, “OK, I’m going to get the leash.” It wasn’t until I was about a quarter mile down the road until she finally got to the dog.
Now, to be completely honest, I was really annoyed by the whole situation. There I was, walking my dog, following the law, and minding my own business. Meanwhile, this lady was not following the law and didn’t give two _ _ _ _s about it. In the moment, as a conscientious person, I was thinking: What should I do if the dog gets too close? Should I kick it? How close is too close? What am I supposed to do? What do I do if the dog attacks my dog? Do I try to protect my dog or attack her dog? What do I do if this is the one time that my dog decides to be aggressive? With a massive, excitable dog and the added responsibility of caring for it for a family member, that lady put me in a really difficult situation.
About a month ago, the exact same thing happened with a different dog. As a result, it made me think: How on earth are these people allowed to own pets? Based on statistics quoted by The Humane Society, there are 79.7 million households with a pet (cat or dog) and about 163.6 million pets. Roughly 6-8 million cats and dogs enter animal shelters each year, of which around 3 million are euthanized. Thus, depending on opinion and as a general estimate, about 3.8%-10.0% households that own pets are incapable of properly caring for them. That’s an awful lot.
I looked into my county’s bylaws to see what the penalty is for leaving a dog unleashed. It’s only $80 for the first offence and $150 for all offences thereafter. Moreover, it’s only $80 for not having a dog license and $80 for not having a dog tag on your dog.