Feb 5, 201408:48 AM
Nola Newbie

Dispatches from a New Orleans Newcomer

Shouldn't Your Dog Be On a Leash?

Some New Orleanians are too lax about leashing their dogs.

I tend to talk about New Orleans dog stuff on this blog a lot, mainly because New Orleans is a dog-friendly city. Take dogs in bars: I didn't know that was a thing until I moved here. My fiancé, Chris, and I have taken our dog, Leila, to Mick's in Mid-City a couple of times and people don't seem to care. The dogs wander around like they're fellow bar patrons. One time, at the Crown and Anchor English Pub in Algiers, I saw a dog sitting on a bar stool.

However, I sometimes wonder if New Orleans' love for dogs has made dog owners here too lax about one rule in particular: keeping dogs on a leash. Over the last year and a half, I've seen lots and lots of dogs wandering with their owners throughout neighborhoods without leashes. This is something about New Orleans that I do not understand.

I encountered a leash-free dog this past Friday when I was on my way home from work. It was about 5:40 p.m., and I was in the process of turning on to my street when a little Boston Terrier darted out into the middle of the road. I wasn't going fast, so I had plenty of time to slow down, but it made me so frazzled and I kept thinking, “What if I had been going a little bit faster? I could have hit that little guy.” I felt bad for the dog because I assumed he was lost, but then about two seconds later, I noticed a man on the sidewalk who appeared to be the dog's owner. The owner didn't seem very concerned that his dog was strolling into traffic during rush hour. "Why is the man not more concerned about his dog?" I thought. "Why is he letting his dog wander near a busy street? Why is the dog not on a leash?"

This was not the first time in New Orleans that I've had to deal with dogs off the leash. About a year ago, Chris was walking Leila in our neighborhood. Our upstairs neighbor was also out for a walk with her dog – let's call him Cujo. On this particular night, Leila and Chris were on one side of the street, and the neighbor and Cujo were on the other side. When Cujo saw Leila, he sprinted across the street toward her. Cujo wasn't on a leash, so his owner couldn't catch him. He attacked Leila, leaving small but bloody abrasions on her head.

After that incident, Chris and I started noticing more unleashed dogs around town. I had never seen so many dogs off the leash in a busy city like New Orleans, so I asked a friend about it. He told me, “Well, since we have festivals here, and dogs are allowed in bars here, I think dogs in New Orleans are used to being outside and used to being around people.” While this might be true, it still makes me nervous that some dog owners in New Orleans don't see a leash as a priority. Letting a dog off a leash at a fenced-in area or a bar is a lot different than letting a dog walk along a car-filled street.

I'm particularly sensitive about this topic because when I was in high school, our family dog got hit by a car. My family and I had just gotten home from a football game, and our dog, who was named Layla (yes, the same name as my fiancé's dog now), was in the garage with us while we were taking tailgating supplies out of the car. All of a sudden, something in the street caught Layla's eye. Before anyone could grab her, Layla bolted into the street and then – BAM. Layla was hit by a car. I didn't see it happen, but I knew she had been hit because she let out the worst cry I have ever heard. We had to put Layla to sleep that night and the whole experience was awful.

I'm not sharing this story to be a downer, but merely to give you a cautionary tale. I know New Orleanians don't love rules, and the leash law is obviously one some people don't care about. While most New Orleans dog owners I've seen do use a leash, I've seen plenty who don't. I hope New Orleans' carefree dog owners change their thinking soon because I would hate for someone else to go through what my family went through when our dog got hit by a car.

 

Reader Comments:
Feb 6, 2014 09:32 am
 Posted by  Bigrod

You are absolutely correct about lax about leashes. I have multiple dogs that I walk on a regular basis,....I am constantly encountering unleashed dogs. It is a nuisance and can result in unnecessarily traumatizing dogs. I also believe in training.......You can have 100% verbal control over your dogand an actual leash is not necessary. Problem is, few people train their dogs to that extent. It is possible, but it takes a lot of work. It is well worth it. Not to give plugs.....but check out Zak George.....he has a great training program that works.

I lost a dog as a result of being off leash. It was'nt intentional, but he got out of the yard and ran into traffic. One of the best dogs I ever owned was lost due to the fact that one of the slats on my wooden fence was loose. So in addition to leashes, owners should make sure that their property is secure at all times.

Owning a dog(s) takes a lot of work and people should take it more seriously.

RT

Feb 9, 2014 12:47 pm
 Posted by  pitbullgurl

Thanks for this, this topic definitely needs attention. What I hear every time someone's offleash dog is running towards mine (on leash and not in a dog park) is, "Don't worry! S/He's friendly!"

The problem is, MY dog does NOT like being run up on by strange dogs. If your dog gets to her and I can't get between them fast enough, there WILL be an altercation. I know and accept that my dog can't socialize with other dogs. She lived her first 1.5 years in a cage before I adopted her and thus had zero chance to develop any dog-dog social skills. Therefore I don't allow interactions with dogs she doesn't know. I always keep her on leash in public and don't bring her to places like dog-friendly bars or festivals because offleash dogs may be there. I would love to bring her, it's just not the responsible thing to do. Around people (and puppies) she is the most bomb-proof, unperturbable dog I've ever seen. She just can't be around other adult dogs.

So leashless dog owners, keep that in mind: YOUR dog may be okay with the interaction, but the OTHER dog may not. And forcing them into a situation they cannot handle is not safe or fair.

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Nola Newbie

Dispatches from a New Orleans Newcomer

about

Haley AdamsHaley Adams has lived in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Missouri, Indiana and France, but she now calls Louisiana home. After graduating from Indiana University in December 2010, Haley moved back to her home, Columbia, Mo., to work for Inside Columbia magazine and mooch off her parents. After a year and a half at the small city magazine, Haley moved to the South to be the web editor at Renaissance Publishing in August 2012.

In addition to managing MyNewOrleans.com and Renaissance Publishing's social media, Haley is the editor of New Orleans Bride, as well as an associate editor for Renaissance Publishing's other publications.

When Haley is not at the office, she is probably trying a new restaurant, looking for places to shop or exploring the South with her boyfriend, Chris, and their dog, Leila. You can reach Haley at (504) 830-7259 or haley@myneworleans.com.

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