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Why Are Dogs Running Around?

Our entire area has leash laws. So why then do I regularly see dogs running around off-leash and dog waste that is not picked up?

As a resident, parent, and dog guardian, I have many opportunities to frequent and enjoy the many parks our area has to offer. Oftentimes I observe dogs running around off-leash in areas where it is illegal. All of the cities in Santa Cruz county require dogs to be on a leash that is a maximum of six feet long as do the state parks where dogs are allowed. All of the parks I visit where dogs are allowed have clearly posted signs stating that dogs require a leash and that owners must pick up after them.

So why then do I regularly see dogs running around off-leash and dog waste that is not picked up?

I understand that we all want to play with our dogs, to give them the exercise they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle and to promote long life, but what gives you the right to ignore the rules? Why do we have these leash laws in the first place?

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA): “Pet owners who allow their pets to roam unattended are putting the animals' welfare in jeopardy and creating a nuisance to neighbors, other domestic pets and wildlife. Allowing dogs to run off leash in inappropriate places is dangerous for the dog, puts people and other animals at risk and, in many towns and cities, is illegal. Leash laws exist to protect animals and people, and we urge you, as a responsible pet owner,to abide by them.Any animal control officer, police officer, or appropriate law enforcement agent can issue a summons upon witnessing a violation.”

The ASPCA says it is dangerous to other pets and people. In particular, let’s not forget that children and dogs can be a highly combustible mix. Children are generally much smaller than adults, move differently, and behave in patterns that may be unrecognizable to a dog even if that dog’s family has children. Many times children are bitten by a dog simply because they move too quickly and can be seen by a dog as an easy target when startled. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year with children receiving a disproportionately high share of those bites. 885,000 people need medical attention with 31,000 requiring reconstructive surgery. That is almost 1.5% of our population bitten by dogs each and every year!

I have the most wonderful, loving, peaceful dog. My dog has never bitten anyone. But, another dog, another animal, a child, or something else could set my dog into a moment of panic resulting in a bite. That bite could end with my dog being euthanized for my actions of not following the law. The same could happen to you. Please don’t let that happen to your beloved pet. Please don’t let that happen to someone else’s beloved child or pet. Please follow the laws regarding leashes.

Please check the Santa Cruz SPCA website for more information on where you can go with your dog on or off-leash.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Rick Duncan December 07, 2011 at 03:01 PM
I see dogs and cigarettes in a very similar way. People become addicted to both, and when that happens, it becomes an out of control obsession. The same reason people litter with the the butts and wrappers is the same psychology that leads to not cleaning up or following leash laws. It's just too much trouble to be responsible and the attitude many people develop is "love me, love my vices" And in a dog's case there is the inevitable "How can you get upset at something so cute?" "My dog is special!" Ask your dog loving friends this question. "If you were on a mountain road with your family in the car and YOUR dog ran out in front and the only choice was to hit it or drive off the road, what would you do?" The usual answer defines addiction.
JW December 07, 2011 at 05:22 PM
The reason there is such a relaxed attitude about something like a leash law is that it is so rarely, if ever enforced. People don't just obey laws out of the good of their hearts. There have to be consequences or most humans lose motivation to observe a law with which they do not agree or that inconveniences them in some way. I frequent all kinds of parks all over Santa Cruz county and never EVER see any type of law enforcement. Of course, these are places where there are constantly women and children present, but no law enforcement. I ask you, what the hell else are the police doing that's so pressing? I mean that sincerely. Especially in Aptos, Capitola and Soquel.
Brian Friesen December 07, 2011 at 05:22 PM
Thank you Rick. I was beginning to think I was the only one in Santa Cruz that felt that way.
Brad Kava (Editor) December 07, 2011 at 05:33 PM
Perhaps kids should be leashed before dogs. The kids I've seen running out into the road or doing stupid things at the beach are far worse than the canines.
Brian Friesen December 07, 2011 at 05:35 PM
The entire dog thing has gotten completely out of hand. A dog is an animal. It is not a human. Dogs lick their butts, humans don't, or most anyway. Dogs eat any nasty thing they find laying around. Humans generally won't. Dogs defecate anywhere and forget about it. Humans are more selective, usually. The point is, if a person can't be without the company of a dog (guide dogs excluded) even for 5 minutes to go into a store, or if they can't understand why others may not want to "enjoy" their pet, they likely have other issues nearly as serious as defecating on the sidewalk, and should be urged to seek counseling.
JW December 07, 2011 at 05:38 PM
And perhaps some smart-ass Patch bloggers should wear muzzles. . .
Barbara gorson December 07, 2011 at 06:26 PM
not interested in stupid rules or laws....i have a saying...Its not a good day unless i violate at least 2 of the ten commandments and 1 federal law....why should my or brads poodle b on leash they r better behaved than me or brad...but i always pick up after my girl
Colleen Bednarz December 07, 2011 at 11:59 PM
There are many things to complain about in life, but what's the point writing a whole blog about rules for dogs? Really? This is Santa Cruz, dude, we love dogs. When humans can't seem to follow the simple laws of decency, respect, compassion, sharing, not murdering eachother, not crapping in my park, we have more important issues than dogs playing off a leash. Some dogs need to be on leashes because of their behavior. Some dogs do not. My dog does not, but I respect the laws of the State Parks and National Parks because I am an adult that makes sound choices based on respect and environment impact of said decisions. My dog has better manners than most people, he is cautious, approachable, kind, patient with all the random kids that run up to him and grab his ears and hair, knows right from wrong, etc. And I ALWAYS, always pick up after him. Which again, is more than anyone can say for how many humans behave.
Colleen Bednarz December 08, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Women and children should be cautious of dogs in parks, eh? I disagree, as nearly every woman and child I know are dog owners and lovers.
Colleen Bednarz December 08, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Agreed, Brad.
DaphneDoRight December 08, 2011 at 04:35 AM
Can somebody say 'control freak'? Jeezus, while I always pick up after my pooch, I side with Colleen and Brad on this one. I think that if you are going to start the siren on the Whaaambulance, starting with the outdoor cats who have much more of a negative impact on the outdoors than dogs ever could. Unwad your panties, go back outside and try and have some fun!
DaphneDoRight December 08, 2011 at 04:47 AM
Since when did humans stop being animals!!!?
DaphneDoRight December 08, 2011 at 05:06 AM
Your question needs clarification. I do live in the mountains, drive the roads often, and dare I say it, I have driven off the pavement once or twice as well. I have never had a dog dart out in front of my car in all my years. Countless deer, cats, skunks, squirrels, but I digress, when you are phrasing your addiction defining question, to truely understand the world, one must see it in only black and white. So to clarify you should phrase it like "your only choice would be to barrel through the dog at that out of control speed that was suited for this craggy mountain, or keep that pedal mashed and try for a distance record as you plunge your family down to the firey depths below. There. Now it is an A or B answer as the question you like to pose has too many real world answers. And yes, my dog IS special :-D
Chuck January 20, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Ethan, I read it...and i do agree. and judging from the comments from a few (and they are entitled to their opinion) they are very much the stereotype of the folk I mentioned in my other post. they get indignant if someone should ask them to leash or control their dog, or mention that the area is "no dogs" and watch the angry responses! These are they same folks that think it is okay to bring their dog into the supermarket or a restaurant, but I bet they'd be the first to scream if you lit up a cigarette next to them. And I cannot tell you how many "Service dogs" are out there now, which to me is a cheap way of bringing in your dog onto airplanes and other dog prohibited areas. You can buy those dog vests and ID cards on the internet, even easier than a medical marijuana card; which I think is essentially doing the same thing-- it cheapens the value of real service dogs for the blind and handicapped by having "any" dog become a 'service' dog for "emotional comfort", etc. The Prop 215 marijuana cards are issued for just about any real or imagined disorder, not just the cancer and glaucoma patients that initially it was designed for. Next thing I see happening will be the same doctors issuing you a blue handicapped placard so you can park anywhere you like for free, get out with your vest-equipped dog for a run on the beach, while you smoke your medicine!! Package deal!! What a country!!

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