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My Dog's No Outlaw 

My dog likes to hike and bike as much as I do. The one-size-fits-all leash laws punish all for the actions of a few. Not to mention that putting dogs on-leash does not necessarily quell the worries over unruly dogs. The dogs that killed Diane Whipple in San Francisco were on-leash, returning from a walk at the time of the attack.

I propose that we collaborate on a more sophisticated tiered-licensing system that separates the Cujos from the Lassies. Incidentally, it could be a moneymaker for a resource-limited city. I would happily fork over a $50 fee to participate in the system. I'd even volunteer my time if that would help the city make it happen. It could look something like this:

Tier 1: The Off-Leash License. To qualify, owners and their dogs would have to display the following:

1. A reliable use of "heeling" in a real-world distraction-filled environment.

2.Responds unfailingly to the commands "come" and "stop."

3.A lack of aggressive behavior toward any living creature.

Once awarded a Bend Off-Leash License, dog and owner would still be subject to a code, honoring and respecting the society we all live in. The dog would have to display a prominent (brightly colored) tag, awarded by the city, so that passersby don't have to wonder if this is a dangerous or out-of-control dog coming toward them. Further, there are likely spots in town where dogs always need to be on-leash, regardless of licensing.

Tier 2: The On-Leash License. This license qualifies owners to bring their dogs to public places, but requires them to remain on-leash unless they're in a designated off-leash area such as one of our newly established dog-parks. Again, a distinguishing tag to let others know your licensing level.

Tier 3: The Keep 'em Home License. This license qualifies owners to have their dogs on private property and in cars only. Perhaps this keeps dangerous dogs out of all public spaces and minimizes the frightening attacks we see in the news.

By the way, not all of us non-leashers are lazy about picking up poop, or even lazy at all. My dog and I cover at least 15 miles a week and I pick up dozens of her poops. Every jacket I own has pockets overflowing with doggie bags at the ready. Isn't it time to let the ranting and fear mongering go and set out for a thinking solution?


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