I cannot tell you the frustration I personally feel when I see dogs off leash in non off leash designated areas. Not only is this grossly inconsiderate and potentially dangerous, it is also 100% illegal and fineable.
See, the leash law was designed to protect your dog, you, and other people and their dogs and children. Like most laws, it applies to everyone. Full stop. There are no exceptions not even because your dog is “friendly” or because you feel a leash is more control over another being than you wish to have. Nope. Not optional. Law. And best case scenario, you just get ticketed by animal control if you break the law. However, worst case scenarios involve, but are not limited to:
Your off-leash dog attacks someone’s leashed dog, a child, or any other person.
What if your dog accidentally in exuberance knocks a child, elderly person or disabled person down and causes injury and emotional distress? Whew, I hope you have really good homeowners insurance and a good attorney, because you are now liable for any and all bills for injuries to the other person and/or their pet or child. There could be a heckuva a lawsuit…there are now attorneys who specifically engage only in litigation against negligent dog owners, which is what you are if you were breaking the law when the injury to another person or pet occurred. And there will also be the small matter of the large citation from the city as well for breaking the law…the leash law. Your dog could also come out on the short end of the stick and since it is basic dog language that a loose dog running up on a leashed dog is almost always viewed as aggression by the leashed dog, your dog could end up severely injured or killed by the legally leashed dog it accosts, and you have no legal recourse and no one to blame but yourself;
Your off leash dog answers that most basic of things, instinct, and takes off running after a rabbit, squirrel, etc.
Maybe you catch Fluffy Jenkins. Maybe you don’t. Or maybe, the ending is as horrific as it was for some former pet sitting clients who absolutely refused to believe their dog would ever run off, because she knew to stay close by and when she did take off after a rabbit, they heart breakingly found her three days later…dead on the side of the highway after she had been struck by a car in her pursuit of the rabbit. We had another client who experienced a similar thing when her off leash dog decided to charge a delivery truck and she helplessly watched him get killed in front of her eyes. She has never forgiven herself. Do I sound harsh and maybe even angry? Yes. I do. Because the safety of your pet is 100% your personal responsibility. Because the reality here is that that strip of nylon or fabric connecting you to your dog is designed to keep your dog in your control and thus safe. It’s not an unfair method of control. And guess what? If you want your dog to have the freedom to run, there are literally tons of designated off leash parks throughout our fair city and surrounding cities where your dog can run free and still be safe;
Your off leash dog approaches someone who has an utter terror of dogs.
It doesn’t matter why. It’s not your business. And it’s not your right to subject your fellow citizens to your dog. That is not a right you have. Your rights end when they begin to infringe on other people’s rights. Period. And who knows how someone who is literally in fear for their life whether your dog poses an actual risk or not may react. We have heard of loose dogs getting punched, kicked, shot and stabbed by someone who feared them. Again, the safety of your pet is literally your responsibility and you should take it seriously. Better overly cautious than sorry.