AFN file photo

Ahwatukee has a loose-dog problem.

And not in the sense that unwanted canines are wandering homeless in the streets. No, the loose dogs I’m referring to are in our parks, on our hiking paths and by our lakes, and they are very much owned and loved. But they are not leashed or restrained in any way.

The Maricopa County Leash Law states that dogs must be restrained and controlled by their owner at all times.

Per City Code, Chapter 8, Article III, 8-14: “No dog shall be permitted at large. Each dog shall be confined within an enclosure on the owner’s or custodian’s property, secured so that the dog is confined entirely to the owner’s or custodian’s property, or on a leash not to exceed six feet in length and directly under the owner’s or custodian’s control when not on the owner’s or custodian’s property.”

Unfortunately for Ahwatukee, many in our community fail to heed this law.

I am a professional dog walker and I see at least one unleashed dog while I’m out with a client 95 percent of the time. That’s so unsafe for canines, their owners and passersby! It is also a liability.

Yes, dogs are domesticated and most are well-trained, but they are also animals and we must remember this.  Even the most docile of dogs can be unpredictable when they are out of their home/yard territory.

One day I was walking a client by Lakewood and saw in the grassy area behind the playground eight owners unleash their dogs and release them to run. I couldn’t believe that many people could be that irresponsible!  

Private backyards are butted up against the grassy area and I couldn’t help feeling sorry for those homeowners as dogs barked and played right outside their fences. And then the inevitable happened – a big dog came out from his house to protect his backyard and all the loose dogs ran up to him, leading to a fight through the fencing.

Scared and panicked owners came running. I wanted to scream at them, “That’s why you leash your dogs!”

But there are other reasons, too.

I mentioned this particular grassy area is right next to a playground. Would you feel safe having your child play in a community kids’ area while unrestrained dogs run around mere yards away? I sure wouldn’t.

And let’s talk about the safety of your own unleashed pets. They might be well-behaved, but I’ve seen dogs take off and pay no attention to their owners when they see a rabbit or an injured bird that they must chase. Would you risk your dog getting hit by a car just because you haven’t followed the law and leashed them?

Countless clients and community members have shared horror stories with me about dog bites that have happened to them and/or their pets simply because they came across someone walking in their neighborhood with an uncontrolled dog. This is not acceptable and the risk of injury is huge.

As a dog-loving community, we need to come together and start being responsible for the safety of our Ahwatukee pets.

They are not permitted to roam at large per the law, but the law itself is just plain common sense. Owners have a responsibility to secure their four-legged friends. It’s in the interest of the dog, the owner and the wonderful people of Ahwatukee.

-Chelly Bosworth is an Ahwatukee resident who owns a personalized pet-sitting service. Reach her at humphreysleashbrigade.com or 602-810-3332.

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