Quantcast

Duluth Dog Etiquette

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?

16 Comments

BadCat!

about 2 years ago

That's crap! Being that they acknowledged the fact that their dogs were not friendly, that could be a negligence/possible public harm charge. Did he stop to assist and give contact info after the attack? (I'm guessing not) Does that owner go through the park regularly? You could ask them to pay some/all of your vet bill.

Also, guessing that's totally the type of guy that doesn't doesn't pick up dog poop either...

David Beard

about 2 years ago

I hate to be cold about this, but, according to Duluth Parks & Rec Trail Etiquette:

Be a responsible dog owner. Dogs must be on leashes except in designated dog parks.
Nearly everyone thinks their dog is friendly and that they can control their dog. Many people are wrong about that. The law exists not just so that he can control his dog, but so you can keep yours out of harm's way.

David Beard

about 2 years ago

[He's a jerk and he should pay at least half of the expenses; I'm not absolving him. But if I passed you on a trail with your dog unleashed, you would make me and the dogs I have walked with very nervous, and that's not fair, either.]

TimK

about 2 years ago

Your dog was off-leash. Your vet bill can be a reminder of that.

billybruno

about 2 years ago

The leashed dog’s owner owes you nothing. Learn the laws and leash your dog.

Eric Chandler

about 2 years ago

The blame falls with you. You were negligent. You willfully ignored the city ordinance. Have I ever let my dog off leash in town? Yes. If my dog got tangled up with another dog while off leash, while they were leashed, it would be my fault. Full stop.

Jeff Speer

about 2 years ago

First, let me say I’m sorry to hear of your dog’s injury and the expense and heartache for you as Gretel’s parent. However, having let your dog off leash, you put your dog at risk and you are in the wrong. The leash laws are designed to protect your dog, other dogs and other people. I am a dog owner and I empathize with your desire to let your dog run free. Chester is not a designated place for this. As the parent of a young child that is afraid of other dogs please also understand that your friendly dog running down the trail elicits fear and panic in my little boy. Is that fair to do that to him?

BadCat!

about 2 years ago

I missed the part about your dog being off-leash. Yeah, sorry, but you do accept a smaller percentage of blame here. Still a sucky situation, but if you're going to call out other dog owners, you're going to get called out as well.

moosetracks

about 2 years ago

It is one of my biggest pet peeves when people say my dog is friendly and is off leash. I still want nothing to do with your dog on my walk. It sucks that yours got attacked, but you were in the wrong.

kerc

about 2 years ago

With your dog off leash I think you must be liable. But I also think that other dog owner is a jerk. I mean his dog bit your dog and he didn't stop? What if it were a kid? Or you?

mossybones

about 2 years ago

As a dog owner and fellow off-leash hiker I would feel like it was part of my fault since I didn't follow the leash law BUT I also don't think it's cool he is out with dogs that aren't friendly in such a public place. What if that were a child? Or what if your dog was leashed but just got a little too close as most do trying to say hello? After all, trails are narrow.

I had a friend bit badly last year by a leashed dog and they were still found liable and had to pay her medical bills. 

Sorry about your dog. Happy it wasn't worse!

runningman

about 2 years ago

Pets need to be under the owner's control at all times. Doesn't matter if they are leashed or not. The owner of the aggressive dog/s should have stopped and pulled his dogs to the side and let you and your dog go through on that narrow trail.

Sam

about 2 years ago

If I spend time watching two dog owners, at least one of them will make me lose faith in humanity. So many dog owners are either bad to their dogs or bad to the people around their dogs, and the owners are oblivious to it all.

Chickonen

about 2 years ago

Long time bike commuter and trail user here. There are regulars on the Lakewalk and trails who go off leash and it works fine. Most of the time they seem to be the people who know what they are doing and the dogs whose needs are met and therefore are not crazy or insecure. It's not as simple as leashed or unleashed and the cases described here illustrate that leashed dogs can be quite the menace if poorly handled.

Honestly, a lot of the leashes just enable people to give their dog silly physical feedback to perceived threats. If every time the dog sees a cyclist their owner recoils and pulls the leash, that just tells the dog that the cyclist is something to get jazzed up and uncertain about.

Whatever works. A majority of people are cool. Almost every single dog is cool. We just need to unpack the occasional bad encounter. The one posted here would be particularly troubling and I can only encourage you to heal up and get back out there. See you on the trail!

Special K

about 2 years ago

As others have stated, there are leash laws, both for the protection of other people and the animals. People who let their dogs run free think they know better and are above the law. Nope. Keep your damn dogs on a leash or take them to a dog park.

And for dog owners who whine that their dog needs to be able to run free: if you can't take them to a dog park or let them run on your own property, then you can't provide for the needs of your dog and probably shouldn't have one.

runningman

about 2 years ago

I spend 4-8 hours per week out on the trails in Duluth and I see many unleashed dogs with their owners and many dogs that are leashed. Over the last 20 years I have had maybe 1 or 2 bad experiences with someone's dog being unleashed. A bad experience would be a charging dog or or actual attack. Each time this has happened it was because the owner did not have control. Most dogs that have approached me are puppies or young dogs and just want to say hi. I agree with CHICKONEN that most dog owners know their dog's level of obedience and manage them appropriately. 

OT - I think the larger problem with dogs and their owners is the amount of feces on the trails. I wish people would pick their dog's crap up. I also wish the City would have more mutt mitt locations and more garbage cans located at the entrances to trails. A few spots in particular are where the pavement ends at Hawk Ridge and at the top of Seven Bridges Road. It's not just dog poop, but also the pig humans who enjoy tossing their McDonald's wrappers out of their vehicles while parking. I mean we as citizens of Duluth pay extra for our parks through sales tax. Maybe I'll say something to my city councilor.

Leave a Comment

Only registered members can post a comment , Login / Register Here

Read previous post:
Mystery Photo #66: U.S. Mail boat near Duluth, Minnesota

This undated postcard photo depicts a U.S. Mail boat at a nondescript location. The only clue that it might be...

Close