Last Thursday, shortly after 6 p.m., I was out for a walk with my dog on the west side of Chester Creek between Skyline and Eighth Street. We were heading up the trail and passed a gentleman out for a jog with his two dogs, heading down the trail.
As we approached each other I said, “Hello, my dog’s friendly.”
He replied with, “Hi. My dogs are not,” and kept running.
My dog was off leash about 10 feet behind me. His dogs were leashed. As the dogs grew near, my dog (who is older and not very interested in other dogs) moved off the trail so as to avoid them. As they passed, one of his dogs, a medium-sized black lab mix, lunged across the trail and bit my dog, Gretel. Gretel let out a single loud yelp. The gentleman yanked on the leash, yelled something at his dog, and kept running. A couple moments later I noticed blood. I stopped and saw that Gretel had a small chunk of her ear torn off. By the time we got home it was bleeding steadily. Our evening ended three hours later with a $680 bill at the Emergency Vet.
I have been struggling with the ethics of responsibility since. The trails alongside the creek are not part of a dog park, but like many other dog owners I have been letting my trained and obedient dog walk there unleashed for the seven years we have lived in the neighborhood.
The gentleman we passed knew his dogs were not friendly but they did not have muzzles, nor were they under enough control to prevent harm to other dogs.
The vet bill has been paid and Gretel will get over having to wear a cone for the next week. As nice as it would be for the gentleman whose dog bit mine to hold himself accountable and offer to cover the vet bill, that is not necessarily what I’m after here.
Where does the blame fall? Unfortunate accident, or is there negligence at play? Is this the price one has to be willing to pay for letting your dog go off leash?
Fellow dog owners, what do you think?
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