While jogging down Powers Avenue Saturday a snarling dog showing teeth made a beeline toward my heels.
The dog couldn’t have weighed more than 15 pounds. Having been bitten by a Chihuahua 12 years ago while jogging I was painfully aware of what damage a small dog can inflict. Sternly shouting “no” as I continued jogging didn’t deter the dog. Before it could completely close the gap, I turned and made a motion as if I was going to go after it and it kept coming. So I swung my foot making it clear I was going to kick it.
Just as I did a lady — who I assumed was the darling little Tasmanian Devil’s owner — shouted out for me not to kick her dog. As she added that the dog wouldn’t bite it lunged at me so I kicked. I missed making contact as at the last second it aborted its attack. As I turned to continue jogging the lady cursed me implying it was my fault because dogs are naturally attracted to moving objects. I get that dogs instinctively chase prey bit.
But this isn’t the wilderness. It is why cities have rules for how dogs are supposed to be secured in public.
This incident took place less than 24 hours after two women were sent to the hospital after being attacked by a pit bull in the Target parking lot.
Over the years I’ve been bitten four times by dogs — once bicycling, once jogging, once walking, and once at a friend’s house. The jogging attack required stitches. All four bites were when the dog was in attack mode running toward me. I’d never seen any of the dogs before.
I’ve been involved in six close encounters that scared me more than actually being bitten.
Once was when a neighbor’s dog gnawed through the fence and cornered my granddaughter Ashley when she was 6 years old playing in our backyard.
A few years ago at my current home, a neighbor’s dog broke through the fence and attacked my Dalmatian Dante in my backyard.
Two times happened when I was jogging or walking with my dog or dogs when they were on a leash. Twenty years ago I was running down Alpine Avenue with my first Dalmatian named Zebra when a young boy let his dog out his front yard and it charged at us. Zebra literally jumped on me to get away almost knocking me to the ground. The dog heeded the boy’s command and stopped after nipping Zebra, drawing a little blood.
The second time was 10 years ago when I had two other Dalmatians — siblings Cruella and DeVille — in running harnesses connected together. As I rounded the corner onto California Avenue near the end of a walk, a loose pit bull charged us. What happened next made me believe everyone who thinks their dog won’t ever bite are fooling themselves. As the pit bull barreled down on us, de Vil — the 75-pound brother that was always a tad bossy — scrambled to get away. Meanwhile, his petite 30-pound sister who always acted as if she were a lap dog, suddenly stood up on her hind legs, bared her teeth like the Big Bad Wolf and let out a non-stop guttural snarl that sent chills down my spine. It felt like my arm was being pulled out of my shoulder socket as I tried to pull Cruella away from the pit bull and tried to keep de Vil from pulling me down. Thankfully the pit bull thought twice and scampered away. But to be honest I thought I was going to be part of a bloodbath.
The other incident was in my front yard. I was watering talking to my neighbor John Alves when he shouted for me not to move. Another pit bull running loose was coming across the street charging me from behind. I looked over my shoulder and the pit bull was closing the distance snarling as if I was a hapless antelope a lion was running down. Lucky for me, John has an authoritative, no nonsense voice. I honestly can’t remember what he said but it did the trick. The dog stopped short of me by about six feet, turned around, and nonchalantly trotted back the direction it and from.
This might come as a shock to a lot of people but your dog must be on a leash in Manteca when you’re out in public. That means when you are walking down the street, visiting a park (except the dog park), and letting a dog out of a vehicle on private property that is accessible to the public such as a store’s parking lot. The leash cannot be over six feet and you must have the dog under your control.
Manteca’s Municipal Code also requires that a dog on your property must be either kept indoors or within a secured fence that they can’t breach. If not, they have to be tethered in a manner that it can’t reach the street or a sidewalk. That means it is illegal for you to simply open your front door to let a dog do its thing in an unfenced front yard.
I do not dislike dogs. What I dislike are irresponsible dog owners.
The leash law is rarely enforced unless someone is actually attacked.
Perhaps it might help to educate the public if there is targeted enforcement once in a while. Just like speeding tickets, leash tickets should serve to educate and help reduce the chances of people getting hurt.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209.249.3519.