All dogs should be on leashes in public places

My older brother posted the following news article from The Guardian in the UK: Freddie the Thames seal put down by vets after dog attack. The article describes the tragic death of a young seal pup that was living along the Thames river in London, and the story was was quickly accompanied by the following update from the Evening Standard: Barrister whose dog mauled Freddie Mercury the seal says she is ‘heartbroken’ over animal’s death.

My brother had accompanied the original article with the statement that the dog should be destroyed and its owner held accountable, and I agree. Dog owners are ultimately responsible for their dog's actions, but I would suggest that there's a bit more to consider here other than mere responsibility. The article in The Guardian only mentions that the dog involved was a "brown cross-breed" mix, and the photos from the article in the Evening Standard clearly show that we're not talking about a Yorkie/Chihuahua mix.

My wife and I were recently involved in helping to end a mauling that was happening in front of our house, where an off-leash Pit Bull attacked an on-leash Goldendoodle. The attack resulted in the Goldendoodle needing 80 stitches to repair the damage, although the Pit Bull would have killed the Goldendoodle if someone else hadn't happened to have a taser that my wife was able to use to get the Pit Bull to release it's grip. However, when the incident was reported to our Homeowners Association (HOA) group, the various owners of Pit Bulls in our neighborhood accused those who reported the attack of "breed shaming," despite the fact that the attack was simply being reported factually; regardless of anyone's personal emotions on the subject, what actually happened was that a Pit Bull attacked Goldendoodle. Breed shaming has nothing to do with it; facts are facts.

I mean no disrespect to people who love certain breeds, but it is a statistical fact that certain breeds are responsible for the majority of attacks and fatalities. The website at https://www.dogsbite.org/ states: "In the 15-year period of 2005 through 2019, canines killed 521 Americans. Pit bulls contributed to 66% (346) of these deaths. Combined, Pit Bulls and Rottweilers contributed to 76% of the total recorded deaths." Despite these numbers, within our neighborhood - where leashes are 100% mandatory - we have a large number of tenants who own "dangerous breeds" that insist on walking their dogs off-leash. Whenever this comes up for discussion within our HOA, these owners' consistent assertions are that their dogs are 'sweethearts' and 'wouldn't hurt a fly.' I am sure that the owner of the Pit Bull that I personally witnessed mauling the Goldendoodle thought the same thing, too. In the end, their protestations sound more and more like the interviews you hear with family members and neighbors of serial killers; e.g. "He was always such a nice, quiet boy."

The point that I would like to make from all of this information is: all dogs should ALWAYS be kept on leashes in public, unless they are within a fenced-in, off-leash dog park. Leashes on private property are up to the owner's discretion, but once any dog leaves private property, they need to be on a leash 100% of the time, and thereby under the control of their owner. My wife and I own a Goldendoodle who is a trained and certified therapy dog that is allowed in hospitals to work with patients, and while I know that she is the calmest dog you could ever meet, I still have her on a leash EVERY TIME we walk in public.

At the end of the day, I do not care how 'sweet' or 'harmless' someone thinks their dog is, or how well they think they have trained their dog; once they enter any public setting, their dog needs to be on a leash. Bringing this full circle, I am certain that if the dog involved in the attack on the Thames seal had been on a leash, the fatal mauling would never have occurred.

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