May 1, 2013

Editorial: Leash laws good for all


---- — Dogs. Who hasn’t gone through life without falling in love with one (or more) or least falling captive to their cute and clever antics?

At their best, dogs are savers of human lives. Many people have been yanked from the jaws of death in a burning building or in deep water thanks to the shrill warnings of a frantic dog. Or trained, intelligent dogs will devote their lives to leading a sightless human through the travails of a complicated and crowded society. Or they will, by their very presence, cheer the depressed residents of a nursing home or a rehab center.

Without a doubt, the well-earned epithet “man’s best friend” is aptly applied to most of the species.

But dogs, like humans, are not perfect. Unfortunately, they cannot be communicated with, as humans can. So they must be limited in their opportunities to circulate with each other and with us.

Thus, leash laws have been put into place in most communities. Gone are the days when the dog got fed and put out in the morning to roam the day as its inclinations dictated.

Leash laws spare us human, taxpaying residents the annoyances of cleaning up after dogs wandering aimlessly. More importantly, they spare us the threat an ill-tempered dog can present to adults, children and other pets.

How distressing it was to read in last Thursday’s Press-Republican about an unleashed dog in Peru that attacked and killed a pet out on a walk with its owner.

The attacking dog, unfortunately, was a pitbull-mix. We say unfortunately because that breed has become the eponym for dangerous, unwelcome dogs that must be avoided for the sake of personal safety.

In truth, most pit bulls deserve no such reputation. They are powerful and agile, and, therefore, must be controlled by responsible humans. But they are also loving and friendly, in the main.

But under no circumstances should they — or any other breed, for that matter — be allowed out on their own, without restraint.

In this case, a vile instinct took over, and the dog lit into a severely overmatched poodle, with fatal consequences.

Peru Town Court will deal with the owner of the dog, exacting penalties and imposing safeguards so the animal will have no opportunities to repeat its savage assault.

But we’ve seen no more regrettable reminder lately of the importance of leash laws and the necessity of abiding by them.

Walking and jogging have become recreational and healthful staples of American life in recent years. Neither would have gained such popularity without leash laws.

Leashes also protect dogs from running into roads and being hit by cars.

Keep dogs confined as your community’s law requires — for their sake, yours and for everyone else’s.