Dogs At Large Are A Danger

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It was only a matter of time before someone got seriously injured or killed by a dog at large in Payson.

Naomi Walton, 78, was leaving her home when she was knocked over by a rottweiler and a pit bull running loose on Vista Drive. Walton suffered a broken leg, but it was a head injury that may ultimately kill her. After several days on life support, Walton will be taken off the machines that are keeping her alive.

The owner was charged with having a dog at large that caused injury.

Although these dogs were not vicious, the owner's inability to properly control her dogs, led to severe injury.

Last weekend, two pit bulls on Park Drive spent their afternoon chasing neighbors. Some residents on the street were afraid to be outside while the two rampaged through the neighborhood.

Dogs at large are a continual problem in town, and now we are seeing the most severe of consequences.

Many will recall the case in California in which a young woman was savagely attacked and killed by a 130-pound Presa Canario in front of her apartment door. A grand jury indicted the owner for second-degree murder, and a jury found her guilty.

In the local case, the two dogs did not attack Walton, but were young, energetic pups that knocked her to the ground, probably in an overzealous attempt to greet her.

One can only imagine that the owner never fathomed this would happen -- but a woman may lose her life because of two loose dogs.

While owners can face civil or criminal charges for the harm their pet causes, the animal almost always pays the price.

A man who regularly walked his two small dogs near the airport got tired of dealing with the two loose dogs that often came after his terriers. One day he brought his gun and fired at the dogs, wounding one of them. The dog paid the price for its owner's lack of responsibility -- the dogs, unfortunately, always pay the price.

Could the town reduce the odds of a worst-case scenario by imposing stiffer sanctions on owners whose dogs are consistently at large? It's possible, but it would be preferable if owners would accurately judge their ability to properly and humanely confine their dogs.

Nothing is more fun than having an adorable puppy to share our home. But people often consider their own desires first, rather than the realities and responsibilities of owning a dog. An impulsive and emotionally based decision is why our humane society is full, and hundreds of dogs are put to death each year.

We hope this tragedy is an eye-opener for dog owners who don't take our town ordinances seriously.

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