It's every runner's nightmare: out for an early morning run only to be attacked by dogs running loose. That nightmare is shared by responsible dog owners forced to defend their on-leash pets from a charging, unleashed dog.
As a Sunday Mail Tribune story reported, one runner had to seek medical attention after he was surrounded and attacked by four Weimaraners early on the Fourth of July in Prescott Park on the slopes of Roxy Ann Peak. Judging by comments to the story posted on the Mail Tribune's Facebook page, this is not a new problem.
Many Facebook commenters said they no longer go to Prescott Park because of the number of dogs allowed to run loose, harassing runners and other dogs. That's a shame, especially considering the running and biking trail expansion the city continues to develop on the hillside park. City officials need to protect that investment.
Leash laws apply to everyone. No matter how well-trained your dog may be, all it takes is one incident to disfigure someone, injure someone else's dog or worse. Prescott Park is a remote, largely undeveloped area that may seem the perfect place to let your dog run free, but it is a city park, and it is every dog owner's responsibility to control their animals. Park rules require leashes except in the city's fenced dog parks at Bear Creek and Hawthorne parks.
Violating the leash law is a code violation carrying a maximum $500 fine, and failing to control an dangerous dog is a misdemeanor that can land a dog owner in jail.
City parks officials say they haven't seen any recent complaints about violations at Prescott, but they shouldn't wait for complaints. Clearly off-leash dogs are a problem of long standing — the couple of dozen Facebook posts attached to the Sunday story attest to that fact.
Use of the trails and main road through Prescott Park has mushroomed in recent years and with the trails expansion seems likely to keep growing. The burden of safeguarding the city's largest park falls on members of the public, who should approach city officials with their concerns, and on those city officials, who should find a way to enforce laws intended to keep the public safe.
The editorial on Thursday, July 6 did not make clear that the various attractions at the Medford Railroad Park are provided by four separate clubs with independent finances. A donation to one club does not get shared with the others.