Dog owners have a responsibility to keep their dogs on a leash and under control when they are out in public.
By Andrew Hughes
Published February 25, 2013
My daughter Katie is ten years old and is Autistic. She is high functioning and full of life. Because she is autistic, she is not comfortable around other kids, and for this reason I rarely take her to parks, birthday parties, play dates, and the like.
One of our favourite things to do is go for "nature walks", where she enjoys the peacefulness of the trails and the wildlife that goes with it.
The trail that we frequent the most is the Chedoke Radial Trail, which starts on Hillcrest Avenue and continues through the Chedoke Golf course. She particularly enjoys walking on the various paths that form part of the Bruce trail.
She did enjoy these walks until last week, and will likely be terrified of this trail for some time.
A dog owner decided to take his dog, a brown and black border collie, for a walk on the same trail, and thought it would be okay to let the dog run loose without a leash. The dog was behind us, and because it wasn't on a leash, it caught up to us very quickly.
As my daughter is scared of dogs, she did what I always told her to do, and stepped aside to let the dog pass. Unfortunately, the dog decided not to pass, and came up and jumped up at my daughter.
She ran away in circles frantically, but the dog just ran after her, lunged at her, and bit her several times. She ran full speed all the way back to the beginning of the trail, where I eventually caught up to her. She was crying, and stated repeatedly, "I am scared of dogs" and wanted to go straight home.
I had to agree with her. She has every right to be scared of dogs given what occurred, and she has the bite marks on her coat to prove it.
Why did the owner of the dog let it loose without a leash? Without it, he clearly demonstrated that he had no control over the dog, and as a result my daughter was the one that suffered.
I highly recommend that the owner of this border collie read the Dog Owners Liability Act, wherein it states that the court can order owners to take control of their dogs by using a leash, and be aware that charges could be laid where a dog has bitten or attacked.
For my daughter and everyone's sake, please abide by the by-laws and keep your dog on a leash, or do so voluntarily under the aforementioned Act.
It's going to take months, if not years, to convince Katie to go back on this trail again. For my part, I will call the City of Hamilton every time I see a dog not on a leash on that trail. I owe it to Katie.
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