Unruly dogs turn stroll into a walk on the wild side

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Animal control laws

Local animal control ordinances require all dogs in a dog control zone to be kept under restraint.

It is unlawful for dog owners to let their pets run at large or otherwise not under restraint in control zones, according to ordinances. A dog that is able to leave the owner’s property on its own will is considered to be at large.

In Walla Walla County, dog control zones are established in the city of Walla Walla, College Place and adjoining areas outside their city limits. Burbank Touchet and Wallula also have established control zones. Maps are available online at bluemountainhumane.org.

Ordinances also cover dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs inside and outside control zones.

For more details on animal control ordinances — including penalties and fines for violations — see the Title 6 section of the Walla Walla County Code of Ordinances online at bit.ly/Mj8mv5 .

To report strays and potentially dangerous animals, call Blue Mountain Humane Society at 509-525-2452 or Walla Walla City-County Dispatch at 509-527-1960. In College Place call City Hall at 509-525-7778 or Animal Clinic of Walla Walla at 509-525-6111. In Burbank call 509-545-8441.

The attack caught me completely off guard and in mid-stride I was jerked around to face the direction I had just come from. I found my guide dog lying on the pavement with the attacking dog just out of my reach, growling menacingly at us.

What had started as a relaxing walk nearly eight years ago had turned into a nightmare.

Our attention had been riveted on the dog in the middle of the road a few feet ahead of us as it bounced around, barking wildly. This was nothing unusual so we didn’t reduce our fast stride, yet this distraction was not wanted and was a continual cause for concern.

Then I heard a second dog give one sharp bark but nothing more and was wondering why he wasn’t out in the road harassing us also.

I only wondered a moment about where the other dog was before its swift attack told me where he was.

My guide, Melita had realized the rush of the attacking dog just in time, and as its jaws tried to close around Melita’s left flank she dropped to the pavement. Only the dog’s slobber got on her fur.

Although the owner of both the dogs was aware of their aggressiveness, she continued to let them run free.

Nor was this the attacking dog’s first time; he’d attacked two other dogs in the previous four weeks.

Only those who have suffered an attack, usually from a “very friendly,” dog will understand the fear this causes. As for me, the sudden stop and being swung around so swiftly, caused me to have sharp chest pain that mimicked heart pain. Only after several medical tests and scans were taken was the cause of the chest pain discovered.

“The sudden stop, probably while you were taking a deep breath,” the doctor said, “actually tore some muscle over your left rib cage allowing bleeding that caused the severe pain.” This chest pain, worse with any movement, was to remain for several weeks and greatly limited my walking.

Though the body may heal in time, the mind never forgets those few fearful moments. My feeling of freedom to walk when I liked was robbed from me and this freedom was replaced with a nagging fear of what could happen on our next walk.

For my guide dog it meant weeks of retraining, and reassuring her every time we passed a dog, regardless whether it was on a leash, in a pen or loose.

There was a time I feared my guide’s wonderful work was over, due to the shock she had suffered, but after several weeks she was again able to guide me around the neighborhood.

Today I often hear remarks from dog owners like, “Oh, he is such a little thing and won’t hurt you,” or, “He is very friendly.”

Another statement I heard recently is, “I am training him to stay off the road; how can I do this if he is not allowed to run free in the yard?”

Still this same person was inside the house with the dog loose out in the yard. How does one train a dog that way?

But for one who has been attacked, these words really don’t bring any comfort. My remark to them is, “Put a blindfold on and see what you think as a dog comes rushing out toward you.”

Even today, many years after the attack on Melita and me, I feel the fear as someone’s loose and so-called “friendly dog” comes rushing into the road as my guide and I pass by.

And though my present guide has not been attacked, still I feel his attention from his work of guiding me being diverted to an unleashed dog coming toward us.

You may find it easy to walk blindfolded in a straight line but try this after being turned around and see if you know what direction you are now facing.

Too many Valley residents think the leash law does not apply to them; after all their dogs are “friendly” so why can’t they run free? My thought concerning this is to respect your neighbors and consider how your loose dog may be affecting them.

Ernie Jones, a registered nurse who retired due to vision loss, can be reached at 529-9252 or at theolcrow@charter.net.

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