HOPEWELL VALLEY: Dogs on the loose can cause terrible damage

Judy Jengo, Hopewell
Reading in the July 16 Hopewell Valley News about Teenie, the much-loved little dog killed by another dog whose guardian lost control of him/her, was and is heartbreaking. I’m very sad for the Lehets and for Teenie, who endured unfathomable terror and pain until he could no longer.
When dogs are not in the control of their guardians, unfortunately it can take only mere seconds for tragedy to strike. I’ve witnessed this more times than I care to count. Any which way sliced, dogs are predators and while it’s easy to forget this when they are being so lovable, we must all never forget that this fundamental aspect of their nature can rise to the surface with certain triggers and often when least expected.
I love animals and have rescued many dogs, cats, birds, etc., and don’t want to see any of them harmed. Not only can innocent pet dogs, cats, bunnies and birds be mauled and killed by dogs running at-large, but these off-leash dogs can themselves be killed, getting hit by cars. It’s a lose-lose proposition.
I’ve run into the middle of busy roads to save roaming dogs about to be hit by cars. I’ve experienced the ‘guardians’ of these dogs turn around and let the dogs roam again and again after these near-death experiences. One neighbor ultimately got one of their dogs killed by a car. So sad. They continued to let their other dogs roam; these dogs have chased and frightened other neighbors’ pets, mine included.
Other neighbors also continued to let their dog run at-large and one day it raced into my yard, knocked me over from behind, gave me multiple fractures in my hand (permanent loss of 50 percent use of this hand), and then grabbed, mauled, and dislocated the foot of one of my pets. She was disabled for the rest of her life. STILL the dog was allowed to roam after that. I nevertheless saved that same dog yet again when it was running at-large by a busy street. I will rescue dogs and any other beings every chance I get, no matter what, because it is not their fault. It is always the fault of the ‘guardian(s)’ that is(are) supposed to be looking after them.
We all pay mighty high taxes to live around here and should be able to use our yards without fear of our own pets (or ourselves) being harmed. I had to lock up my vulnerable pets and they were never able to enjoy their own yard again, because of attacks by various at-large dogs. I’ve also incurred thousands in vet bills (in cases where the people did not stick around to take responsibility or were never identified in the first place) and lost time off work and other pressing responsibilities to care for pets severely injured by dogs running at-large.
For years I have been a member of and contributor to a website dedicated to the excellent care of birds and other types of animals; literally every single day on that site there are multiple reports of maulings and killings by dogs running at-large. This is so much more prevalent than most anyone realizes. Even small dogs managing to kill dozens of birds in a just a few unguarded minutes. Pet rabbits annihilated in seconds. At-large dogs have been known to kill elderly cats that are outside sleeping on a porch or deck.
Must everyone lock up their elderly cats enjoying their last days in the sun, because an at-large dog might cruise through the yard, spot them and maul them, or give them a heart attack when they are suddenly pounced on? It shouldn’t have to be.
When I read about Teenie, I had to write and try to reach people, indeed many of them good people who just might not realize how serious the ramifications could be to letting their dogs out of their sight. To the Lehets, I grieve with you. To the officials who took the situation seriously and did everything they could to help, I add my thanks to that of Teenie’s family.
We live in a world where personal responsibility seems more and more to be a foreign term and that must change if there is to be any hope for a better future. 
Judy Jengo 
Hopewell Borough 