To the Editor:
I’m writing with a plea to Island dog owners to put away or better yet throw away their retractable dog leashes. I’ve had two types of incidents in the past year that have led me to think this is important and best for the safety of us and our pets.
One year ago I was hiking up to my house from the boat with my dog on a retractable leash out 15 feet in front of me on the side of a quiet side street when a “perfect storm” of circumstances almost led to his demise. A yipping unleashed little fluffy dog ran at us from a house across the street just as a taxi van was bearing down upon us. There was no earthly way to stop my dog with 15 feet of leash out in front from darting across the street and getting hit broadside by the van and thrown through the air as I watched in horror. I think the saddlebag type backpack on my dog cushioned the impact and saved him from serious injury. I counted my blessings and put away my retractable leash that day.
I have a neighbor with a pit bull, or something that looks like it, who walks her dog on a retractable leash. Twice now, the most recent incident just last week, her dog has unexpectedly lunged at me walking my dog and managed to attack us. With a retractable the dog has a chance to get up a 15-foot head of steam and there’s no way she or anyone else could hold onto that handle grip. The first time this happened the poor woman landed flat on her face. Still she apparently hasn’t learned. A traditional leash loops around the wrist, limits the dog’s range to about 6 feet, and prevents the animal from getting out of the handler’s control. Oh by the way, I learned, “He only goes after your dog.” Comforting, huh?
We all think we’re giving dogs more freedom on a retractable leash, but really we’re endangering them and in some cases posing a threat to others.