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WHEN DOGS ON PUBLIC TRAILS BECOME DANGEROUS

BY CINDY BROWN FOR THE TAOS NEWS

Delinda VanneBrightyn of Dogology, president of Taos Search and Rescue and head of canine unit

Be prepared and thoughtful when walking. Stay alert and keep your dog under control. If you are diligent with your dog, you show respect and protect yourself from liability.

I don’t recommend dropping the leash of your own dog, if you are charged by aggressive dogs. It does work sometimes, but if it doesn’t, you’ve lost all control of your dog.

I carry a walking stick and use it or a backpack to put between me and the dog – keeping my dog behind me. I make my voice low – like a bear growl and say, “Get back” or “Get away.”

I also carry Stop That spray. It makes a noise that startles dogs and has positive pheromones and is completely safe to use. Bear or pepper spray is another possibility – you just have to ensure it doesn’t come back into your face. I also look around for rocks or sticks and have no problem using them. If the dogs get into a fight, you might be able to separate them by kicking the ribs or throwing water on them.

Be aware of coyotes, too. I know of several instances in which small dogs were grabbed by a coyote.

Make sure to educate and empower yourself to be prepared and protect yourself and your dog – that way you can turn a bad situation into a nonevent. We are lucky that we are able to take our dogs on public lands here. That is not the case everywhere. We live in a remarkable place – let’s keep it that way.