Editorial: Put a leash on it

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    Not long ago in an undisclosed Utah County town a neighborhood full of small children was put at risk. The threat is still there and is not likely to go away any time soon.

    The culprit is not a sex offender, a terrorist or a case of West Nile Virus. It is a dog. A Rottweiler to be exact. A family moved into the neighborhood with the dog, and lets it roam free in their unfenced back yard.

    Many people let their pets run around outside without a leash, and it?s rarely a problem. After all, how much harm could a Pomeranian or a Dachshund do? Not much. A Rottweiler, however, is a different story. A Pit Bull is a different story.

    In a study involving 431 fatal dog attacks that can be found at fataldogattacks.com 21 percent involved a Pit Bull and 13 percent involved a Rottweiler. The same study showed that 79 percent of the victims were children under the age of 12.

    In 25 percent of the attacks the dogs were allowed to roam free and the study showed that one of three main factors in fatal dog attacks is owner irresponsibility, including letting the dog roam free.

    Given these statistics one might expect the law to require leashes, especially for more dangerous breeds like Rottweilers and Pit Bulls. Many states do have leash laws, but Utah is not one of them.

    The Animal Legal & Historical Center Web site lists states that have leash laws in seven different categories. Utah is not on any of the lists.

    Part of the reason for this is the fact that, not too long ago, Utah was a pretty rural area with a lot of farmland. It made sense in those circumstances to let animal run around without restraint. Now that the state is growing though, that mindset is outdated.

    It is simply irresponsible and dangerous to let large, aggressive dogs roam outside in a residential neighborhood. Utah has responsibility to protect the children of this state with legislation that requires leashes. In the meantime, dog owners have a responsibility to maintain control over their pets.

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