Chuck Kuepfer, Spin Cycle
There is a grassroots movement to get a leash-free park in Elmira where our four-legged friends can run free.
It’s a great idea — if people use it.
And therein lies the crux in a world where no television viewer in their right mind would ditch the remote for the manual manipulation of knobs and dials.
Dog parks are great in theory.
Heck, many cities have built them to satisfy society’s canine lovers.
Yet some dog owners just can’t be bothered to use them, especially if they’re built on the other side of town, which makes it kind of a hassle to get there.
However, the citizenry welcomes these leash-free parks because the alternative can be downright frightening.
Anyone who has used a public trail knows that a) many dog owners think leash laws don’t apply to them, and b) dog behaviour is at best unpredictable.
As a runner, last week’s brush with a dog’s jaws emphasized that point.
Running up behind a startled owner, which in turn set dog into “serve and protect” mode, almost cost a chunk of meat from the back of my calf.
Not all dog owners are implicit in such mindless control of their animals, but trail users can’t leave personal safety in the hands of those with unleashed animals.
Of course, leash-free parks are the perfect way to get negligent pet owners off public paths, and gives a dog a large swath of real estate to run wild upon.
Not only that, but it gets pet owners off local schoolyards, where fecal specimens are sometimes left as parting gifts to be stepped in by children.
So, kudos to those who want to build such a park in Elmira, who have backed up such talk with a fundraising initiative to make it happen.
If they build it, hopefully dog owners will use it — and keep their unleashed animals from making recreational pursuits on trails an accident waiting to happen.