Murphy's Musings: Editorial
This is a highly irregular, and often irreverent (if not irrelevant) set of editorials reflecting my views on a wide swath of issues. You might wonder why I don't just use a blog; I have my reasons.
One of the really bad misconceptions people — in particular us city slickers — have about living in the country is that it's "ok" to let your dogs run. With all this open space, how can it not be fine, you might ask? What's the harm?
Here are some reasons. Warning: some of these are not for the faint of heart.
I am right now incredibly frustrated. Normally we walk our dogs on a quiet, nearby unpaved road with very little auto traffic, on a regular basis. On all such walks, our dogs are under our control at all times, on leashes or flexis. However, because one county resident chooses to let their dogs (lots of them) run loose, unsupervised, and out of control, we have had increasing difficulty in walking past the house where they live. They would come charging at us, teeth bared, jaws snapping — and these are not small dogs.
Please understand: the road in question is the only one within a five mile radius that is suitable for this sort of dog walking. Most of the other country roads around here are too busy, and have too many tight corners with nowhere to jump if something like a dump truck comes barreling down the road your way at high speed (and they do, trust me; dump truck drivers, please slow down!).
The incident I refer to above occured today, when our dogs were being walked (under control, leashed, with prong collars) past that house. The dogs (at least five of them) came charging out of their driveway, into the public road, and started attacking one of our two dogs — the same dog that was only a week into recovery from a spay operation. They bit and grabbed her hind quarters, totally terrifying her and no doubt causing severe mental trauma. We will probably never be able to walk her past that house again, even if the problem (vicious in my opinion) dog pack is removed.
Because our dog did not appear to sustain any physical harm, according to county rules the attacking dogs cannot be considered "vicious" in a legal sense. But that does not change the fact that these dogs are now a menace to all members of the community around this area. Once the prey drive and pack mentality kick in, the situation gets rapidly out of control.
I am fortunate that my significant other did not sustain any injury. The owners/caretakers of the dog pack that attacked our dog are also extremely fortunate that did not happen. It is, in my opinion, only a matter of time before some far more serious incident occurs. That dog pack should be either confined safely in a fenced yard, kept indoors, or sent to the animal shelter. There is no other option.
— Pat Murphy, June 4th, 2008.
Patrick P. Murphy
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Charlottesville, Virginia, USA