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  • Writer's picturePublic Lands Hate You

Dogs And Our Public Lands - Are You Being A Responsible Dog Owner?

***Originally posted to @publiclandshateyou on 5/19/2019***

I’m not a dog owner for a multitude of reasons, but I’m not against dogs. Hell, I’ve even saved a puppy from imminent death by Rottweiler. But damn, many dog owners need to get their shit together. Dogs off leash where it’s not allowed. Dogs where they aren’t allowed. Dogs harassing wildlife. Dogs killing wildlife. Dogs biting people. Little bags of shit left along trails and at trailheads. I mean really, if you’re going to bag the shit up, take it with you instead of doubling down and leaving the dog shit AND the plastic bag.

There is a reason that dogs are banned in some areas just as there are reasons why certain areas have leash laws. Do you know what those reasons are? Is there an endangered plant species right off the trail that is extremely sensitive to disturbances? Are there wild animals in the areas that are impacted by the presence of dogs? Is there a potential safety hazard to the dog? Is it because the park wanted to create a space for people to enjoy themselves without a dog coming up to sniff their ass every 10 minutes?

Bottom line is that many people don’t know why certain dog rules are in place and are making a choice to ignore them for a multitude of reasons. They think they have the best trained dog in the world. They feel guilty leaving the dog at home. They want a cute picture with the dog. They are too lazy to properly exercise the dog and decide to let it off leash to run around. Those are not valid excuses.

If you are a dog owner and you’re starting to feel defensive, take a moment to consider why, and then read the following quote from the 3/20/19 Mountain Journal article by Todd Wilkinson.

“Most recreationists tend to blame others for causing impacts to wildlife rather than holding themselves responsible.”

If you are a dog owner, please examine your actions and hold yourself accountable rather than placing the blame on others. If you and your pup enjoy having access to our public lands, please do your part to follow the rules and encourage other dog owners to do the same. Ignoring dog rules benefits no one, except perhaps a lazy owner, and often has a detrimental impact to the dog, other dogs, other people, and the environment.

A number of people contributed to this post with thoughtful comments and suggestions. They know who they are. At risk of exposing them to the shitstorm that is bound to ensue, I have not tagged them in this post.

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