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Word Nerd

Dog-gone town

I admit I grew up in a suburban area where we let our dog run loose. But that was more than 20 years ago. Since becoming an adult, I've rarely seen loose dogs anywhere in the Seattle area.

There were lots of reasons for the dearth of dogs on the streets of the wet side, including various laws. More important was safety, as you can't let a dog run loose in a busy neighborhood without expecting someone to run it over.

It was easy for me to become complacent about dogs being secured. I even got over my mild fear of them, knowing they weren't likely to be able to reach me even if they wanted to do so.

But here, wow.

Just the other day as I was driving to an appointment there was a dog in the road. When I approached in my car, it decided to cut in front of me, forcing me to slam on my brakes. Then it backed off, barked happily with tail wagging and ran around my car so I couldn't see where it was going.

Then I noticed a man on the sidewalk, grinning as if the antics of a driver unwilling to run over a dog were funny.

I was able to eventually proceed, through fits and starts, as the dog continued to circle and chase my car joyfully. I've seen the results of animal versus car contests, and I didn't want to hurt that dog.

But that's not the first dog I've seen loose around here.

During the summer I try to walk each morning before it gets too warm. I mostly confine my walking to the local neighborhood, and oh my, do I get told off by the dogs running around loose.

In more than one case I've been walking very early and the dogs have decided to bark at the top of their lungs at me, following me through the neighborhood. I felt guilty thinking I was waking all my neighbors, but the fault really lies with the dog owner who lets their pet run loose overnight.

I've been chased by dogs, mostly the little breeds, that nip at my heels and run away if I turn around to face them. It's more annoying than dangerous, but it still seems wrong to someone coming from a place where every dog outside is either on a lease or confined in a yard.

Visiting Sun Valley Elementary School for an appointment a couple of weeks ago I was confronted by a pack of four or five dogs as I exited my car in the parking lot. When I mentioned the dogs at the front office they sighed and told me they had complained repeatedly about the loose animals, but nothing had been done. At least one of those dogs was bigger than the average Sun Valley student.

During our recent snowfall, I was forced to stop my car dangerously as dogs ran into the street in front of me. More than once. Who allows their dog to run loose on icy streets?

At first I thought this profusion of loose dogs was because Sunnyside had no leash laws, but Sunnyside Municipal Code 6.04.160 and Yakima County Code 8.36.160 both say that dogs must be kept under control.

So I guess the loose dogs are either due to ignorance or disdain of the law.

Regardless of the reasons behind it, I have started to feel mild apprehension when I see a single dog running loose, a tiny tinge of fear when two are running together and genuine concern when I see a pack of dogs threatening kindergarteners.

I can't be the only one, can I?

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