Follow the dog-gone rules

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Take a walk on Tubbs Hill or the North Idaho Centennial Trail. It's almost guaranteed you'll meet someone with a dog, and many times, the dog won't be on a leash.

So, man's best friend will come running toward you, the intruder, sometimes barking, sometimes growling. Here, most often, is what the owner will say:

"Don't worry, he doesn't bite."

"He just wants to play."

"He's friendly."

Somehow, in the owner's mind, that makes it OK for the dog to roam free. That makes it fine for the dog to charge up, chase after you. That makes it no problem for Spot or Rover to romp and bounce in front of anyone who comes its direction.

It's not.

More complaints are arising about those who insist that the leash laws in the city of Coeur d'Alene and Kootenai County do not apply to them. There are those who believe leashes are for other dogs, not theirs, that by leashing them, it stifles and restricts the dog's spirit. Somehow, it's mean.

More concerns are being expressed by folks who simply want to enjoy a bike ride, a walk or a run on Tubbs or the Centennial Trail, and then encounter someone with a lab, a pug or a retriever. That canine often ends up in their path, so they must stop, swerve, change course.

Some trail users report having to fend off dogs, even to the point of carrying pepper spray.

Then, there are those folks who walk their dogs in the city and casually watch as their pets wander into yards to do their business, then walk away, pretending they don't see the mess left behind.

If you happen to mention there's a leash law to these kind, loving pet owners, they often become defensive, if not belligerent.

This clash between unleashed canines and their owners against trail and hill users is reaching a point where something should be done in a city that last year earned the title of Dog Town USA for being dog friendly.

We have a few simple suggestions.

n Keep a leash on your dog when you go for a walk. To do otherwise is rude. At the least, when you see someone coming your direction, hold it by the collar, or attach the leash, until that person has passed. If you insist on not leashing your pet, pay attention to what's behind and in front of you.

n Use the dog parks. Coeur d'Alene has two. Your dog can run free there until the cows come home.

n The city and county should do what they can to enforce the leash law. We know it's not an effective use of resources to patrol constantly for a relatively minor offense, but visiting Tubbs or the Centennial Trail a little more often would likely motivate dog owners to leash their pet by way of fearing the $75 fine.

We applause those who, by leashing their pet, show regard for others. With some common courtesy and respect, by just obeying a black and white leash law, everyone on Tubbs and the Centennial Trail should get along.

Well, at least better than cats and dogs.

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