Written 7~28~97

    I'm phobic of dogs. And that means that "He's ok... he doesn't bite" (I've heard that so many times) doesn't change the fact that I want nowhere near your dog. I'm ok if the dog is on a leash, and I'm out of range.

    Not having a dog on a leash in King County is ILLEGAL but so many people do it anyway. And the worst offenders don't pay attention to my fearful body language and just let their dog play wherever it wants, including on me.

    I'm a big supporter of off-leash areas... because if people have places that they can have their dogs free, maybe they won't do it EVERYWHERE. At least now I know the places to avoid.

    Clueless dog owners make me furious with their lack of understanding/caring that there may be someone who not only doesn't like dogs but is genuinely phobic (meaning unreasonably afraid) of them. That's not to say there aren't thoughtful dog owners who keep their dogs on leashes, and notice when I start to look afraid, and pull their dogs away from me.

    Yesterday, I had one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. I was sitting in a beautiful cemetery, enjoying the sun, the peace, and the view. This woman drove up with three dogs, and let them out. Big dogs. They ran free, and even though I was far enough away, I eventually decided to walk farther.

    Suddenly, the dogs noticed me. Two of them ran quickly toward me. They came from a distance, so it took a little while for them to arrive... leaving me paralyzed and shaking while my worst nightmare came running right at me. Fortunately, they didn't jump on me, but barked a lot. The owner then noticed and called them back.

    At this point, I was absolutely terrified. I yelled (she was too far away to just speak to) at the owner, "It's illegal to have your dogs off leashes, you know!" She, the irresponsible, rude, clueless bitch, responded, "Give me a break!"

    I couldn't deal with her; I had to go sit down farther away and recover for several minutes. Eventually, I got up to go get her license plate number but she had gone.

    I'm going to research the leash laws in King County and Seattle, and find out just what they are and what I can do about people that break them. I'm not interested in being a tattle tale or a snitch... but these laws exist for a reason: to keep dogs from bothering other people and other dogs. Leashless dogs are unpredictable.

    At first the argument that leashes are restraining to your precious animal may sound convincing. But please remember that leaving your dog off a leash is rude and inconsiderate of those of us who are phobic. Not to mention people who just plain don't like dogs, and dog owners who keep their dogs on leashes and don't like your dog bounding up to theirs and annoying it.

    ~ * ~

    This was written by me and published in the Times on Saturday, July 24, 1999:

    Editor, Seattle Times:
    I am writing in enthusiastic support of Seattle's animal-control police officers. I'm glad to know there are people out there doing their best to enforce leash laws.

    The dog owners quoted in the July 18th article seem to think their dogs should be an exception to the rule, that their dogs are so angelic a leash is unnecessary. In some cases, this may be true, but the law does not distinguish good dogs from bad dogs. Until there is a system in place to test dog behavior and issue some sort of off-leash license to the truly well-behaved, all dogs should remain on leashes. How am I supposed to know if the loud, frightening dog bounding toward me will heed its owner's call? I don't want my visit to the park to be disrupted (as it often is) by having to be on constant lookout for unrestrained dogs.

    Besides, the Seattle area has several large off-leash areas where dogs can be exercised freely. Please, dog owners, remember that many park users don't like dogs, even your sweet little Fido. Use the off-leash areas, and leave the rest of us in peace.


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