Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dogs are allowed, but...

Dane County Code of Ordinances / County Parks 53.09(07):

"All pets shall be effectively restrained on a leash no more than six (6) feet long and controlled at all times."

A diminutive version of this ordinance is posted on conspicuous signs at trail entrances to the prairie and savannah parcel of Pheasant Branch Conservancy. Whenever I mention this ordinance to people actively breaking it, they become almost invariably hostile. They won't listen to reasons why the ordinance exists in the first place and shout me down. They get so defensive. Some resort to petty insults, vitriol and other piffle as to why the rule doesn't pertain to them. They really believe they have a right to allow their pets to run free on conservancy land. Well, they don't. That pets are allowed on-leash is a privilege that can be taken away. It's the required dog permit that grants the owner the privilege of having their animal in the conservancy, and then only on a leash.

Yesterday morning, a repeat offender whom I had never approached before allowed two of his dogs to run loose again. At the savannah on the hill, they were off-trail, trampling, hunting through vegetation and flushing sparrows I was trying to observe. (Also, the owner did not clean up after his pets). After I made him aware of the ordinance, he challenged that because I probably drive over the speed limit means he doesn't have to abide by this particular county park ordinance. Interesting rationale, isn't it? Like, from two miles away, the act of me driving 60 MPH down County Highway Q somehow alleviates him of any obligation to respect Dane County Park's leash ordinance.

Let's see. How can I use this logic to work in my favor? Because this guy disrespects Dane County ordinances, I guess I don't have to pay my property taxes this year? Or I can go on a five-finger discount spree at a local convenience store? When I get caught, I can inanely plea, "But people speed! There are speeders out there, I'm telling you! They're real! Speeeeders! Argh!"

It's disappointing. The conservancy property is shared and enjoyed by many people with various interests. Dogs are allowed by permit and must be kept under control via leash. How simple! But unfortunately, when a few stooges break this ordinance, they ruin the experience of this natural area for others, as well as potentially jeopardize the welfare of the conservancy's plants, birds and other animals.

Sadly and predictably, this particular man quickly degenerated into a child. He resorted to expletives and insults that were political in nature. Regrettably, I became angry and returned spiteful rhetoric regarding his literacy skills, or rather lack thereof. At the parking lot, I took down his license plate and turned it over to the Dane County Park supervisor who will be issuing him a hefty ticket. To avoid it, all he had to do was politely recognize the information I provided and keep his pets restrained, something he was already obligated to do by the permit he carried (if he, in fact, had one).

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