Letting Dogs Roam In Rim Country Is Illegal

FOCUS ON PETS

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A friend called recently requesting that I write a column about dogs that are allowed to run loose. She likes to walk with her dogs on leash, as do many others. Loose dogs can turn a pleasant walk into a terrifying experience.

My friend's young dog was pinned to the ground and the loose dog had her by the neck. So much for a peaceful walk. On one walk, her dogs were attacked three times by three different dogs. This is just not fair. This complaint came from Strawberry. The incidents occurred on Fossil Creek Road, but I hear similar complaints from Payson and other communities.

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Dogs on leash want to defend their people and their space, but they can be controlled. Dogs off leash are a big threat to leashed dogs and their owners. When all dogs are off leash, like in the dog park, they are all free to run and play. However, dog owners must constantly watch for problem situations.

Those of us who walk with our dogs have to be ever watchful for loose dogs. I walk with three dogs and believe me, when a strange dog appears, I panic. Mostly I scream. But I am always on the lookout for an escape -- a deck or yard where I can get my dogs to safety.

Those who allow their dogs to run loose think nothing about the problems these dogs cause. They see their dogs as needing exercise and a chance to visit with the neighbor dogs. Or they just don't care. However, there is a leash law in Gila County. Anyone allowing his dog to run loose is breaking the law and risking a citation.

Some dogs are escape artists. Believe me, I have had experience with that. It is frustrating when you try so hard to keep them in. But many dogs are deliberately allowed to run free. Walkers, joggers and bicyclists know just how frustrating and frightening that can be.

Denny Harger of Gila County Animal Control says he frequently finds loose dogs and takes them to the Payson Humane Society. The owner then needs to come pick the dog up, pay the boarding fee, plus pay for a rabies shot and license if the dog does not have one. If a stray dog injures another dog and breaks the skin, the dog will be put into quarantine at the owner's expense. Denny has picked up four dogs this week.

The animal control officer cannot issue a citation for a loose dog unless he himself sees it out of its yard. Whether in the town of Payson or in Gila County, if a dog is harassing you, make every effort to find out where it lives, report the incident to Animal Control and give them the address. The animal control officer can then go to that home and issue a citation for the dog not having a license. The owner would have to go to Magistrate Court, pay a hefty fine and buy a license.

We all have the right to jog, bike and walk with or without dogs. Inconsiderate dog owners do not have the right to interfere with that right.

Denny says, "Keep your dog contained. Be a responsible pet owner."

It has been unusually cold of late. It could be a long cold winter. Be sure to have adequate housing for your dogs and cats. Hopefully, they are in the house with you, but if you will not allow that, make a warm house for them out of the cold wind and wet snow or rain. A doghouse with straw is good for a start. It at least gets them up off the cold ground. Enclose an area in the garage. A large crate or kennel with the door open, or a doghouse, can be wrapped with blankets and a tarp to keep the warm air inside. Build this enclosure on a pallet so the dogs are up off the cold floor (pallets can be found at the rear of the Roundup office, 708 N. Beeline Highway, and may be taken for free).

If your dog is outside during the winter, even just during the day, or if you are feeding outside cats, increase the amount of food. The food is what keeps their bodies warm. High quality food with a good meat protein source is best for providing energy for warmth.

Water is a big problem when it is so cold. Check the dishes several times a day to make sure that the dogs and cats have access to water, not chunks of ice.

In this cold weather, and all year around, lets share our homes and our heat with our pets.

Christy Powers is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.

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