Reader's view: Dog owners need to respect leash laws
I appreciated the July 17 article, "Happy trails?" I was heartened by the respect different types of trail users are showing to each other. Those quoted realize that respecting others on the trails heightens the outdoor experience for all users.O...
I appreciated the July 17 article, “Happy trails?” I was heartened by the respect different types of trail users are showing to each other. Those quoted realize that respecting others on the trails heightens the outdoor experience for all users.
One group of trail users was left out of the article, however: dog owners. In my personal experience, this group does not display the level of respect depicted in the article.
I run and hike our trails. I commute to work on the Lakewalk. Nearly every day I encounter dogs off-leash. On the Lakewalk and bike trails, an off-leash dog creates a safety hazard. In allowing dogs off-leash within the city limits, dog owners not only break the law, they disregard the histories and needs of other trail users. They may be sharing space with individuals who have had traumatic experiences with dogs in the past, have fears related to dogs, or don’t want to be greeted with wet tongues and muddy paws. A dog owner’s assurance that “she’s friendly” does not counter this lack of respect. Leashing one’s dog on the trail and using one of our city’s dog parks for off-leash exercise shows respect.
Duluth should look to other cities that have active outdoor populations and well-developed parks - places like Boulder, Colo., and Albuquerque, N.M. - to see how these cities have created a culture in which dog owners respect their city’s leash laws. I have spent time in both places and never encountered a dog off-leash. As I ran the trails recently in Duluth, composing this letter in my head, I met one leashed dog and three dogs off-leash.
I encourage the city of Duluth to partner with our outdoor organizations and create a campaign of education and enforcement, focusing on respect for all trail users.