Tales From The Trails:

Dogs on Leashes Make Everyone Safer

T.J. Ford has enjoyed trail running in Forest Park for 15 years. As she says, “Forest Park is my church. We are so lucky to have this unique place in our city.”

Forest Park is a great place to train while also getting to enjoy all the peacefulness that being in nature can provide. Sadly, that peaceful experience was interrupted one day when T.J. encountered an off-leash dog.

In February, T.J. was doing a long training route—a 12-mile circuit that includes Newton Trail and up along the BPA power line. The route usually continues onto Fire Lane 12 but on that day, she decided to explore Fire Lane 13. About 50-100 yards ahead of her, she saw a man walking his dog. Seeing that the dog was not on a leash, she slowed down. She called to the man to call his dog and the dog heard her, turned around and looked alert.

T.J. yelled again to the dog’s owner but he could not respond before the dog ran at her, jumped up barking, and then bit her on the back of her leg. The owner called for the dog, but it ignored him. After the incident, T.J. managed to get the owner’s phone number, but had to run 7 miles back to her car and drive to urgent care. While the bite was not too deep, it was a significant injury that took weeks to rehabilitate.

The owner of the dog apologized profusely, and offered to pay all of T.J.’s medical bills. He immediately bought a muzzle for the dog and will be taking her back to training classes. The consequences for both T.J. and the dog owner are significant.

This is not the only story we hear at FPC about people being bitten or having other negative encounters with off-leash dogs in Forest Park. Even without meaning to, off-leash dogs can collide with and trip people, and cause real injuries. It’s one of the many reasons why dog owners are required to follow the law and always have their dogs on a leash.

The owner of the dog that bit T.J. thought that because Fire Lane 13 seemed deserted, he was all alone. As an urban park with about 500,000 visitors each year, Forest Park will always have people in it and no matter how well trained a dog is, it can become startled and react aggressively when suddenly encountering others. “It might feel like you’re alone in the woods, which is part of the appeal, but we’re never truly by ourselves in Forest Park,”T.J. said.

For more information about the importance of off-leash dogs, visit FPC online.

To report an off-leash dog, call the ranger at 503 823-1637 .

If someone has been bitten, please call Multnomah County Animal Control at (503) 988-7387.



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