Monday, December 29, 2008

too wet to walk the trails

since i can hear water running off my roof. i am betting that the trails are muddy, so i am going to share 2 emails regarding dog incidents instead of hitting hull's gulch. probably a neighborhood walk (in goretex!) and hopes of things drying out soon...

the first is awful. i had no idea that these things happen with some regularity in town (according to the ihs). this is not the sort of thing that happens because there are off leash trails. this guy is disregarding the rules from the get go and would no matter what the rules are.

Today I received a voicemail from a woman who wanted to report an incident that happened in Military Reserve on Saturday 12/20.

I returned her (she provided me her name and phone #s)call. She is a regular walker on the Ridge to Rivers trails who has had a couple minor run-ins with off-leash dogs in the past, however her experience on Saturday was a rather traumatic one.

She was at the Freestone Trailhead (the one across from the Military Reserve cemetary) at 3:30pm on 12/20. There were three off-leash dogs in the trailhead parking area and their owner was seated in his car. One of the dogs came at her face and she raised her arm (with a walking pole in it), so that dog bit her left elbow another grabbed her left hip. After she screamed at the owner to get out his car and help her, he did. She got the man's info, he said two of the three dogs were his and the other was just with him. She called the police to report the assault and they did nothing, but direct her to animal control. On Sunday 12/21 an animal control officer came to her house to take down info on the incident. The officer then went to the man's house and currently one of the dogs has been removed and is quarantined. The man has no insurance, so the woman is left to pay for her medical costs (doctor's visit and antibiotics). She wants to make sure this does not happen to anyone else.

This is from an acquaintence regarding his experiences with a particular dog owner over Thanksgiving, and with dogs in general on the trails:

Thanks for your concern about my incident the other day. I did not anticipate such a reaction, but I am glad that you are actively trouble shooting and educating.

The incident happened Friday (Nov 28) at approx 1 pm.... I was headed down canyon on Lower Hulls Gulch trail, maybe 100 yards from the turn off onto Red Cliffs to the left. The dog owner was on a trail/route to my right (west of the hulls trail). Maybe he was on 8th St or maybe just bushwacking on a use trail… There are a lot of use/social trails paralleling Hulls. But anyway, he was on a route of some kind of paralleling the lower hulls trail heading up canyon. I heard him yell at his dogs and caught a glimpse the dogs bounding through the vegetation toward me. Something in his tone of voice sounded urgent. This made me concerned that maybe the dogs were aggressive/unfriendly. Also since the dogs were coming thru the brush from one trail onto my trail, I did not get as good a look at them as one normally would in advance of actually encountering them. At any rate, it was very uncomfortable. This all happened in a couple of seconds. When the dogs reached me, the dogs chased me for perhaps 50 yards. I yelled “get back” several times at the dogs and I yelled “get them under control” at the dog owner. The dogs stopped chasing me. I stopped for a breather. At this point the guy yelled “asshole” at me. I managed to not let him know how I really was feeling about him at this point, but I did shout to him that the rules said his dogs needed to be under 30 foot voice control. I doubt it did any good. I rode off at this point. There were 2 dogs. I am 90% sure they were both boxers.

I grew up with dogs and I am normally very comfortable with them. I also try to be very understanding and patient, especially when I am in the lower foothills, where there is a lot of traffic, but this was simply too much.

My younger son (who is 7) is really uncomfortable around dogs. On R2R trails, there have been too many times when dogs have jumped up on him or accosted him, instead of being under their owners’ control (voice or leash). There appear to be too many dog owners in the foothills who don’t appreciate that there are a lot of people out there like my son. For example, my wife and I had dinner with 4 friends Sunday night. All four of them had been badly bitten by dogs (mostly as kids).

I appreciate your efforts to educate dog owners on these issues.

the second writer uses trails regularly. he and his family have had a cumulative experience of unpleasant dog encounters resulting in his youngest being uncomfortable around dogs. none of us want that. i'm sure the dog owners were all well meaning, and they said "he's friendly" but the fact is that if someone is uncomfortable you can't just tell them that they shouldn't be.

this is where the ambassador program and dog owners getting out talking to other dog owners can really help.

hope everyone had a great Christmas! here's to things drying out!


Anonymous said...

I am very saddened by the stories of those two women. Under no circumstance should any dog owner bring an aggressive or uncontrollable dog onto any trail, on leash or off. Frankly as a dog owner to "quarantine" a dog is not enough. If a dog bites a person there should be no second chance. As for the owner stricter fines and jail time should be considered for having such poor judgment. I am disappointed in the approach of making more trails "on leash" in an attempt to solve these issues, making more trails "on leash" is not going solve the problem. I go up to the trails 5 days a week (when it's dry) and I have only seen 1 ranger. Enforcement is key, until that is addressed people will continue to bring said dogs on trails.

I appreciate the hard work DOG has been doing.

A walker from the Northend.

marianne said...

thanks for taking the time to comment. the second writer is actually male.

i am absolutely in agreement with you that we need enforcement along with education to address the problem. i am sure that, in the second case, many of the offenders were well meaning dog owners who just never thought that their friendly dog would scare anyone.

we'll keep working on it- we've been making good progress, thanks to responsible dog owners!