We moved here roughly two years ago and immediately appreciated the small-town semi-rural environment.
But almost as immediately, we also experienced the dog problem. Dogs have chased me during training runs on public streets and sidewalks. Dogs have chased me while cycling. Dogs have pursued my properly-leashed dog while we ran together. Dogs have accosted my properly-leashed dog while on walks with my wife and children. All these dogs were unleashed.
Sometimes these encounters were with owner in sight and sometimes not. In at least two instances, the fright caused by an unknown dog reduced my young son to tears. In one case I myself fell down while trying to protect my properly-leashed dog from two unrestrained dogs of unknown intentions. In another case my dog's leg was slightly injured.
The problem is subsumed under Merced County Code: 7.04.070 Dogs at large. If you are a dog owner, please read and obey the ordinance. I have been told that the best way to handle this problem is by carrying a large stick or pepper spray.
This is good, but it is even better that the root of the problem be aggressively tackled: irresponsible dog ownership. Walkers, runners and responsible dog owners walking or running with their dogs should not have to carry a big stick or pepper spray while on public property. Simply respecting others by following the ordinance will make this a better and safer place to live.
Daniel J Sorenson