Off Leashers: Don’t Shoot the Messenger!

Off Leash Dog

Perhaps human nature has always been this way: blame the cop who issues a ticket to one who drives 80 in a 40mph zone. The teacher who has it in for the parent’s child even with documented instances of misbehavior. And people who walk their dogs off leash who feel unfairly targeted by those hired to enforce the law. I sometimes wonder if it’s hard-wired in us to deny our culpability and shoot the messenger instead.

Sanctioned places for dogs to play off-leash Santa Cruz County leave much to be desired. The County has a list on their website and the majority are fenced-in dog parks. As a result, many dog owners do what I did years before I started my business: we said screw the law and took off the leash. My favorite was 20th Avenue; I was down there most mornings and often ran into the same people. As a result, I have friendships that are still going strong.

Be they friends or acquaintances, there were two favorite topics when we struck up a conversation. Our dogs, of course, but inevitably we managed to work in the injustice of county legal codes that denied the right of our fur babies to frolic untethered. But another rather disturbing view sometimes threaded its way through and that was blame leveled at the animal control (AC) officers personally. They went out of their way to hunt down dog owners who were just having a good time and really, harming no one. Wouldn’t those men and women’s time be better spent finding real problems to address?

And those who were ticketed. Oh, the outrage. One person I knew didn’t even try to hide his hatred of AC officers, referring to them as thugs, Nazis, the Gestapo. It led me to wonder if anybody ever sucked it up, took their licks and perhaps gone so far as to apologize for ignoring the law.

I got a warning up at Blue Ball park and it never occurred to me to get in the officer’s face. I’m not saying I’m all superior or anything, but I do hope to avoid being one more jerk (at least in this area) and self-professed victim in a world full of them.

Don’t Shoot. Take Action!

Live Oak Off Leash Association (LOOLA) was founded to work within the system to change the rules. Friends of Lighthouse Field (FOLF) was also started by those pursuing a legal solution to allow dogs off-leash. Members decided it was time to respond rather than react. As the saying goes, better to light a candle rather than curse the darkness.

I’d hate to do a ride-along with those tasked to enforce the law. I know I couldn’t do what the “thugs” do without throwing up or wanting to throttle cretins who abuse animals that they probably run into on a regular basis. It’s a job. And it’s a job you couldn’t pay me a million dollars to do. Writing this, I just had a radical idea. Maybe I’ll drop off some cookies for them. Maybe I’ll even write a thank you note. I seriously doubt they’ve ever been thanked in their life. Maybe it’s time.

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