It has happened, likely, to almost everyone.
You’re out for walk at the beach, the park or a trail, and you see a dog roaming free. The dog, about that same time, sees you, starts barking and comes running. The dog’s owner, standing there, shouts, “It’s OK. He doesn’t bite. He won’t hurt you.”
Except you don’t know that.
The owner is usually right. The dog doesn’t hurt you. It just scared you, which is OK with the dog’s owner.
Now, dogs should be on a leash. That’s the law. Yet, there are people who ignore any law that says their dog should be leashed because they somehow have decided their dog must run free at all times, even if it means it scares a few folks or tangles up with other dogs in the process. That’s not OK.
There have been reports of late of a dog scaring and even attacking people and pets around Kapaa and the North Shore. This wouldn’t happen if the dog was kept on a leash and kept under control by its owner. This isn’t the only unfriendly dog that’s allowed to roam free around Kauai.
One woman told TGI she was recently at Kealia Beach when a dog bounded over, barking and circling her. When she yelled at the owner to get the dog, the owner yelled at her, like she was the one with the problem. And as if to make a point, the owner of the dog walked away, dog still off leash.
Another person told us she was bitten in the leg while trying to get between her dog and another dog that charged over and a brief fight ensued between the canines. The woman’s was leashed. The other dog was not.
There are dogs who like people just fine, but not other dogs.
While we love dogs and encourage people to adopt one at the Kauai Humane Society, which is doing a fine job under the leadership of Scott Pisani, we also ask dog owners to simply follow the county’s leash law. In case you were wondering what it is, here you go:
Dogs must be under control of their owner by a leash (not more than eight feet long) when off the owner’s property. Exceptions to this article include seeing-eye dogs trained to assist blind persons, dogs used in an official law enforcement capacity and when dogs are used for hunting or obedience training, tracking or show as long as they are accompanied by their owner.
If dogs are found running loose or if used for hunting or training and no owner is obviously present to control them, they are considered stray and in violation of this law. Fines for this violation range from $50 to $200.
This law helps prevent injuries to both people and dogs. Loose dogs can cause serious traffic accidents, threats to children, loss of young livestock and public health concerns with waste droppings. In addition, they cause neighborhood nuisances when digging up trash or causing other dogs to bark who are properly confined in their yards.
Dogs will live longer, healthier lives if kept under control by their owner at all times. They won’t be exposed to unknown poisons such as herbicides and insecticides or even from eating trash. Most importantly, they won’t be injured or killed by cars or even people if causing unwarranted threats or nuisances.
That’s about as clear and easy to understand as it gets. If you want to let your dog run free, please do so on your private property, a fenced yard, as home, or one of Kauai’s dog parks, perhaps when no other dogs are around.
That way, everyone, including our pets, can be safe.
P.S. Don’t forget it’s the Fourth of July on Tuesday. That means fireworks and explosions, which generally frighten dogs. Please remember to keep your pet indoors or on a leash with you that day.