I've been noticing an animal control vehicle parked in the neighborhood the past few weeks. We sometimes see coyotes and I figured one might be causing problems and someone called animal control.
Last week a friend came over with her toddler and we took the kids for a walk on a nearby trail. Sydney, our Lab, begged to go with us. We've been taking her running on this trail for years. In fact, our backyard borders the trail.
We embarked on our walk. Recently, signs have been posted on the trail stating dogs must be leashed at all times. I still let Syd run off the leash - no one was around and we watch people from our backyard run their dogs off-leash all the time. It seemed to be an uneventful walk. Syd was a little hyper since this was only the second time I had taken her on the trail this year. The boys were content with their snacks of puffs but alas they started to get antsy so we turned around. Syd continued making her rounds sniffing every bush in sight.
We noticed a few bikers on the trail above us but Syd paid them little attention. We also encountered a couple other dogs also off leash but they sniffed each other and went along their ways. Then there were a couple of bikers wearing bright yellow vests making their way toward us.
Finally it clicked in my head - animal control was patrolling the trail making sure people keep their dogs on leash. The officers turned out to be from the sheriff's office. Indeed they stopped us, but I had Syd on her leash by then (yes, I do take it with us). The officer proceeded with his questioning starting with "How are you today?" What I wanted to reply was "How my day is really depends on how this conversation is going to end." I resisted the urge to back talk, though - really resisted - and clicked into polite charming person mode. I did not want a ticket.
He asked if I saw the posted signs - yes. He asked if we walk on the trail often - honestly, it was only the second time this year (no lie). He said they are patrolling to make sure people keep their dogs on leash on this trail. I mentioned our backyard borders the trail and we've walked on it for years and no one leashed their dogs. He said that was exactly why they were enforcing the regulation. I mentioned the animal control vehicle parked for the past several weeks and just assumed we had a coyote problem and was relieved that was not the case. He said he would give me a warning and sent us along our way.
On a side note, the boys sat perfectly still and quiet during the conversation with the officer. Something about his sheriff uniform that must have been intimidating!
We continuing on our way and finished the walk successfully. Anytime no one melts down - a definite success! Upon reflection I can only conclude a couple of things. One the economy must be really bad if officers are giving out tickets for off-leash dogs. This is Idaho and not the big city. We live on the outskirts of town - barely in city limits. It's not like we're in a downtown area letting our dogs run free. I guess the state really needs money to finish construction on our roads! Secondly, it is a little disturbing that we've seen significant increases in home robberies and drug activity, and yet officers are riding their bikes on a nearly deserted trail handing out tickets for off-leash dogs. In the officer's defense, he was only doing his job and was very polite about it. And, we were in violation of the regulation.
Oh, well. We were busted but got off with only a warning this time. But I still watch folks from my back window running with their off-leash dogs. It does not bother me - I just hope they don't get busted too!