Unleashed and Dangerous

Please leash up your dog for everyone’s sake

By Gregory S. Redmond
Guest Opinion
April 2022

I have run regularly in Land Park since the city constructed trails there more than 20 years ago. Running in Land Park is a source of great joy in my life.

However, I am concerned about dog owners who allow their dogs to run off leash in the park and endanger their animals and runners who frequent our parks.

I am a dog lover who grew up on a 300-acre farm where we always had dogs. I learned dogs are great companions, faithful and loving to their owners. I also learned dogs give chase when something runs in front of them. It’s their instinct.

On the farm, I learned how to defend myself against wild dogs that occasionally sought to eat our chickens.

In my years of running in Land Park, I have been chased, charged and threatened by countless off-leash dogs. Most of the time, the dogs did not become truly dangerous. But not always.

Six months ago, while I was running on a late Saturday afternoon, a large, off-leash German shepherd ran straight at me from the park’s interior.

My instinct was he would go for my throat. I was correct. I grabbed a large stick and aimed at his nose as he attempted to attack me.

His owner ran toward us from the interior of the park as I fended off the shepherd. The owner seemed as surprised as I was that his dog would behave this way.

I yelled at the owner that I had feared for my life. The owner corralled his dog and quickly left. No apology. Thankfully, I have never seen them again.

Shaken, I called the city’s non-emergency number 311 and spoke to a dispatcher who said she would have an animal control officer call me within one week. No one called.

Other encounters are harmless but frustrating.

Just the other day I had a cute, off-leash chihuahua run about 20 feet from its owner to stand immediately in front of me on the running path. I had to slow down and jump to the left to get out of the chihuahua’s way. If I had not been so aware, I could have unintentionally injured her.

I want to thank the vast majority of dog owners in Land Park and Curtis Park, where I run occasionally, for having their dogs on leash, and for being great stewards of our city parks. They understand Land Park and Curtis Park are not off-leash dog parks such as Truitt Bark Park on Q Street or Partner Park on South Land Park Drive.

Please support me by telling your fellow dog owners who let their dogs run off leash in city parks, where runners run on paths, “Please put your dog on leash. It’s for the good of all of us, and our dogs.”

Gregory S. Redmond is a Sacramento physician who practices internal medicine. He can be reached at gsredmond@ucdavis.edu.

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