To the editor:
This is an open letter to everyone who enjoys walking on our island and beach. I believe my experiences with unleashed dogs have been shared by many of you.
I have two large dogs which are always leashed when they are outside our fenced yard. I love my dogs and I love to walk with them all over the island and on the beach. Unfortunately, for some time now, I have been unable to bring my dogs with me when I walk because of the many dogs that run loose and run up to people and other dogs. My dogs are very well behaved, but they become frightened when other dogs run up to them. When they are frightened, my dogs try to get away from the aggressor dog(s). That puts me and my dogs in danger of being injured either by or because of the unleashed dog(s).
I have an Achilles tendon injury which is taking months to heal and I cannot risk re-injuring it, so, for me, it is extremely frustrating to see the leash law ignored. When I have seen a dog that was unleashed, and when I have politely asked the owner/walker to please leash it, I have heard or heard about the many reasons why the "offending" dog could/would not be leashed. Some of those reasons are:
- I live here.
- I don't live here.
- I have more than enough money to pay any fine. (Is anyone ever fined?)
- My dog is good with people, it just doesn't like other dogs.
- My dog is a service dog. (Properly trained service dogs don't run up to other people or other dogs.)
- My dog is well behaved (This was said by a lady at Newton Park right before she ran towards Estero trying to catch her "well behaved" dog.)
- I don't speak English. (Odd, since she spoke fluent unaccented English right up until she was asked to leash her dog.)
- I spend a lot of money to stay here.
- That's a stupid law. You should do something about that.
- My dog won't poop if it is on a leash (To his/her credit, the owner/walker did clean up after the dog.)
- I have insurance. (An odd response since the request was only that the dog be leashed. Also odd because many Florida homeowner and rental insurance policies do not provide coverage for injuries or damages caused by pets.)
I want to stress that the problem of unleashed dogs is not limited to the beach.
To those people who don't think the leash law applies to them, I can only say: "But of course. You are special. Bless your heart."
To everyone who does obey the leash law and does pick up after their dog(s), I say, "Thank You!"
Fort Myers Beach