Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Use of pepper spray one option when confronted by unleashed dogs

To the editor:

Having just read the article about dogs off leash on the side of the Mill River leading to Smith College in Northampton, I am inspired to share my own experience — and solution. Once again, while walking my (leashed) dogs along the river path, I found myself in another intolerable situation; a very large dog bounded up to us, and began nipping at my leashed dogs, and I was unable to get it to back off.

The owners were right there, saying “Don’t worry, she is just playing!” They laughed as they walked past us, calling unsuccessfully to their dog. I begged them to control the dog, who kept lunging at my thoroughly worked-up dogs, but they insisted that she is not harmful and ignored the entire thing. This is not the first time this has happened. I used to take my dogs to the “Hospital Hill” trails, but had to stop because of aggressive dog behavior and inconsiderate owners.

Solution: I have just begun the process of applying for a license to carry pepper spray. I hate to resort to this option, but find no alternative: Dog owners, be pre-warned! I will use the pepper spray each time I find myself in this situation. And of course, if everyone would obey the law about leashing dogs while in public access areas, I would not have to resort to this extreme response.

Elaine Kersten

Florence

I agree with you completely on this subject. You have every right to protect yourself, and remember, it is YOUR perception of danger that determines when you can spray the dog. It's bad enough that walking dogs off leash is allowed on the other side of the river, now someone who doesn't want to be around dogs can't even have the Smith side to enjoy. I was nipped on the ankle by a dog in that area some time ago, and the owners refused to stop or even acknowledge me. I had to call the campus police to stop them. By the way, is it really legal for dogs to be off leash at the "dog park", or is that something that is simply tolerated because it's been done for so long?

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