It’s a dog’s life — no leash law here

Reading about the City Councilman and his dog, ('Councilman’s dog bites city worker') reminded me of an incident last summer. I was walking past the children’s playground in Mercerdale Park and a large, unleashed dog jumped on me from behind. He was simply playing, but I hadn’t seen him coming and was nearly knocked down. The owner was unapologetic, explaining that there is no leash law on Mercer Island.

I later called the Mercer Island police, asking for clarification and whether dogs should be leashed or at least under an owner’s control, particularly next to playgrounds. The officer was engaging and polite, but clearly uncomfortable, and told me, “We’ve been instructed that the political climate has changed.”

I was surprised at the answer and asked again, and he repeated without explanation that the political climate had changed. I appreciated his candor and honestly felt bad for the officer who was in a difficult position. In fairness, he also said later that if there was repetition of a problem, they might “suggest” that the dog owners go to the off-leash area in Luther Burbank Park.

I have a tremendous respect for the preponderance of dog owners who truly care for their dogs and for their community, but a very few cast a pall on the others. More important, do we on Mercer Island allow politics to dictate public safety?

Steve Schickler


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