Seminole Countyâs new ordinance that cracks down on the owners of aggressive dogs seems like a solid, proactive move for pet and owner safety.
But dig into details, and it becomes a well-intentioned deal with unintended consequences.
Iâll be completely upfront about this: I have owned large dogs, mostly Boxers, all my life. They have all been wonderful, although some have aggressive issues that have kicked in during our walks along our community.
One of those triggers is always small, yappy dogs, usually on retractable leashes, which happen to be one of the worst inventions of this or any generation. Just ask any dog trainer or hit the Google search engine.
One of the primary reasons is that it allows your dog to get far enough away from you to either get into trouble or into harmâs way. And that includes coming into close proximity with people like me and their big dogs. My dogs â following Cesar Millan protocol â are close to my side and never on retractable leashes. I try to be a good pack leader.
But things can go haywire when we come across a dog that isnât well-trained that shows aggression.
Seminoleâs new countywide ordinance will allow county animal control officers to deem âany dog aggressiveâ if it chases or causes an unprovoked minor injury to another dog or person. More serious attacks â such as one causing a broken bone, serious wound or death â would fall under the stateâs âdangerous dogâ classification.
If something bad were to happen, then we could become entangled in legal crosshairs as to who started what and when. And chances are that if I, for whatever reason, lost control, then it would not end well for the small dog. And then it may not end up well for me or my large dog.
Owners with dogs tagged âaggressiveâ will now be required to obtain an aggressive dog certificate from the county that must be renewed annually. The dogs also will have to be muzzled and leashed while walking with their owners.
The ordinance that was passed Tuesday came into play after an incident last November, when Donna Syracuse was walking her Yorkie from a park to her then Casselberry home when two large dogs bolted from a front yard. One of them attacked the Yorkie, killing her. The large dogs had a long history of lunging at other dogs and people, and they were eventually euthanized.
That is a heart-breaking scenario. The ordinance fits perfectly in this case. And donât get me started on the owner of the large dogs and their irresponsible behavior.
I just donât want to get roped into the crossfire of this ordinance should something bad happen involving our dogs.
Full disclosure again: Years ago, a woman walking a small dog on a retractable leash approached our dog walker and two Boxers. She was warned to back off. She did not, and the small dog got close enough for one of our Boxers to lunge. Nothing happened to the dog, but the woman fell in the melee.
She claimed soft tissue damage, found a lawyer, and sued. And our insurance company settled. I found it appalling.
So I ask, whose fault was that?
I am all for responsible dog ownership. But that should include large, medium-sized and small dogs.
Everybody can get along if we all follow the rules, especially small-dog owners who donât seem to connect the dots that yappy behavior on retractable leashes can lead to some very dangerous consequences.