Letter: Dog Off-Leash Pilot is 'Experimenting' With Safety

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About 50 or so residents attended the first community meeting at Louise Van Meter Elementary School to discuss the

When a few moms raised concerns over child safety, one person who was for the off-leash pilot suggested with a tinge of sarcasm that a fence be built around the children's playground.

Another person who was against the pilot feared the soil may become contaminated from feces.

As I expected, there were a lot of statements that began with the words "my dog," and when the off-leash group was asked why they just couldn't use the Los Gatos Creek Trail Dog Park, one person said it was because there was no parking.

One thing is clear when it comes to dogs, people are passionate. I am not passionate about poop not picked up or doggy socials. I am passionate about the safety of children in the presence of dogs.

At approximately 320 pounds per square inch, a dog's jaw can tear through tissue and muscle at lightening speed leaving permanent scars and nerve damage. There is NO human fast enough to prevent a dog from making contact once it has committed to bite.

Dogs also at risk: It's not just the children who are at risk here. If dogs are legally allowed off-leash in our parks, these locations will be published on dozens of private dog park directory websites.

Let’s say an out-of-towner shows up with an intact male dog who fights other male dogs and they're told never to return. Mysteriously dogs are turning up ill or dead—likely from eating poisoned meat. Call me paranoid ... but would I take my dog to one of the parks? Absolutely not! Rat Poison Left at Dog Park in Sunnyvale.

Fact: No matter how well trained or socialized, dogs are still predators.

Fact: The domestic dog, whether Chihuahua or Golden Retriever, share 99.8 percent DNA with the Gray Wolf. Instincts before dogs ate kibble and lived in pampered homes, if dogs didn't hunt, they didn't survive.

Some rescue dogs that have lived on the streets can be very prone to chasing and food aggression. These dogs are unsafe to be around playing children and children with food. 

To aid in hunting, a dog's visual system is highly attuned to detecting movement. Some dogs switch from play to predatory aggression when a child runs away from them. 

A child's high-pitched scream, flailing arms, or rolling on the ground, can also trigger a predatory attack. People need to understand that small individuals, whether a cat, a squirrel, or a toddler can look like prey to some dogs so it should be no surprise when a 10-pound dog is attacked and killed by a larger dog.

Children have been seriously mauled, and on rare occasion killed while trying to run away from predatory dogs. The book Fatal Dog Attacks chronicles real cases of cases where adults and children are killed by predatory dogs. These type of attacks are more common when there are multiple dogs operating as a pack or pairs. 

Many dogs also like to chase people on bicycles and skateboards. Once they catch up to a person on wheels, dogs often nip and bite at the rider causing the person to crash. Serious head injuries can occur when overly exuberant dogs knock children to the ground.

In 2009 Beverly Head, of San Jose, died from a brain injury when she was tripped by a flexi-lead. San Jose has since passed a no flexi-leash law.
Humane Society--

How to avoid getting bit by a dog?

  •  Never approach an unfamiliar dog, especially one who's tied or confined behind a fence or in a car.
  • Don't pet a dog—even your own—without letting him see and sniff you first.
  • Never turn your back to a dog and run away. A dog's natural instinct will be to chase and catch you.
  • Don't disturb a dog while she's sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy, or caring for puppies.
  • Be cautious around strange dogs.

Benefit vs. risk: I understand that dog owners would like to keep their dogs healthy and fit. Like humans, dogs need to maintain muscle tone, control their weight, and interact with their own species.

However, "experimenting" with dogs off-leash for the sake of a few residents who don't want to walk their dogs to exercise them, or drive them to the proper dog park is hardly worth risking the safety of human beings.

What I don't understand is why Los Gatos can build a multimillion dollar sports park, yet cannot figure out a way, with the help of the community, to raise funds for a proper dog park.

This is an excellent short video every parent should watch by the American Veterinary Medical Association on teaching children W.A.I.T. (Wait, Ask, Invite, Touch)

The next community meeting will be held at 6 p.m., Wednesday, May 9 at Louise Van Meter Elementary School. People can also voice their opinions to the Town Council at council@losgatosca.gov. 

P. Blake May 07, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Mixing off leash dogs and the public is irresponsible and dangerous. Los Gatos has fenced off leash dog parks which are very nice. Use them! I don’t want an off leash dog charging me, my fragile parents or my small dog. I observe dog owners at the off leash parks that we go to, many of the owners are talking to other and not watching their dogs. It’s a fact that I have observed numerous time, most people don’t over see or manage their animals as they should to protect other dogs or other people in the area the dog is running around. I have been bitten at an off leash dog park by a strange dog who was trying to bit my dog. The attacking dogs owner was no where in sight.
ALBINS MARTINSKIS May 07, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Observer To impugn Ms. Foley-Boyd's professional qualifications to make your point, Dr. McClanahan, is shameful and not befitting a man of science who should be capable of of rational thought. What has happened to civilized, public discourse and our inate ability to disagree agreeably. By the way, what was your point?
Gena Styles May 09, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Jefferey- I'm just a "simple minded" Los Gatos soccer mom. I don't have M.D. after name so I'm sure you will reply using condescending big words in an attempt to make yourself look superior. When did you become the park owner? Or the Director? Are you a non-profit organization? Either way you will have NO legal right to ask anyone to leave with their dog. You guys better buy some hefty liability insurance because if my kid is bitten playing in the park, I'll sue you, your group and the city " Your arrogant attitude gives doctors a bad rap. Shame on you. Don't you have better things to do like heal people? PS: I didn't have to use the dictionary to look up any words".
Gary Walker May 24, 2012 at 05:05 PM
I agree with Edward. This is not a complicated subject. Off leash dogs able to pack and run around near children is a safety issue. BTW Gina, I can understand your frustration. Gary
Hachi May 24, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Thank you finally some well informed sanity. I have two large dogs and two small children, so I get it. My children have a very heathy respect for unkown dogs of any size.


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