Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Said There Ought'a Be a Law... Now There Is!

Back in 2010 I wrote that:

Retractable string leads are inadequate to control even a small dog, are easily chewed through, are almost impossible to affix to a fence or post, and can easily trip you. In short, there ought to be a law against them.

Now the city of San Jose, California has done exactly that!   The San Jose Mercury News reports:

The San Jose City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a new ordinance that requires people on city trails to keep their dogs on leashes no longer than 6 feet -- 14 feet shorter than is allowed now.

The new law also requires dog owners to walk, jog or bicycle to the right of the trail with their pets.

First-time violators would receive a warning, second-time violators could be issued a $100 citation, and a third violation within three years could result in a $200 fine.

The action comes after a series of community meetings held by San Jose City Councilwoman Nancy Pyle following a fatal accident that occurred on Sept. 16, 2009.

Beverly Head was taking a morning walk when her legs became entangled in a dog leash as a mountain biker riding alongside his two Siberian Huskies passed her on the Los Alamitos Creek Trail. The retired 62-year-old San Jose phlebotomist fell, bumped her head and was conscious after the accident. But at the hospital, her brain swelled and she died the next day.

To be clear, the string leads are only illegal on bike and walking paths.  But that's a start!   How many more people need to be killed, have their legs broken, and their fingers amputated before we say this is a product we managed to live 4,000 years without ... and that we can probably do so again.


HTTrainer said...

Leash control laws? This is not good.
You just can't micromanage stupid every time someone has an accident. I know some people who can't control a dog on a 6 foot lead.
How about requiring spongy tips on prong collars?
NY State Senator Diaz wants mandatory obedience training and microchipping.
I'm willing to bet that these laws are being underwritten by the PeTA & HSUS.

NYC's Councilman Peter Vallone is responsible for this legislative cockup -

PBurns said...

I agree that you cannot micromanage everything. That said, we do regulate a lot, including things that are INHERENTLY dangerous and which have a predictable quantifiable chance of harming others and which provide no real benefit or use that cannot be filled by other means.

String leashes (aka Flexi-leads) are the canine equivalent of lawn darts, except I am pretty sure lawn darts injured a lot fewer people. And yes, law darts were banned in both the US and Canada. See >>


3Laiki said...

I looked up another article (dated 2009) about this incident, and unfortunately neither mentions the type or length of leash that the cyclist was using. It does mention that the dogs were 'alongside' the bike (presumably in contrast to a bike-joring scenario where the dogs are on a gangline in front).

One wonders why biking with dogs was not outlawed instead?

Though retractable leads provide plenty to criticize, I am not convinced that a Flexi was to blame in this horrible accident.

It is difficult to legislate common sense.

PBurns said...

No, you are right that you cannot fix stupid, and there is a lot of that in this world. The Darwin Awards have never wanted for a recipient (I've almost been eligible myself!).

Maybe it's enough that we are simply talking about the kind of injuries these things can inflict on the people that own them and anyone who comes near the people who own them.

How about this one:

"One minute, Nancy Jodoin was holding her dog on a retractable cord leash while watching her daughter play softball. An instant later, she was on the ground, the tips of three fingers severed from her left hand by the cord when her 75-pound Labrador retriever suddenly ran toward some people it knew." Source >>

The company's defense is that they TOLD people in the package insert that it would cut their fingers off.

And they did.

They also said it would trip up other people and might also cause their brain death ...and might also trip the purchaser of the leash resulting in their breaking their neck and being paralyzed for life. Nice!

In my opinion this is a product most often bought by people who do not know too much about dogs and who do not read very much either (all the dog books warn against them).

It is difficult to train a dog with a retractable leash, and impossible to fully control a dog with one. Then, when the predictable happens with a person who does not read, and who's dog is not well trained, and which they cannot fully control because the product is inherently defective, the company points to the package insert as their "get out of liability" card. And yet injury is so predictable, the package insert actually predicts it!

Maybe the rule should be that if a product has a longer package warning insert that a Glock handgun, we should all stay away!


bestuvall said...

every training or confinement for dogs has a "problem" flexis are a CHOICE.. fly fishing is a choice.. you can get your fingers torn off doing that too. How about electronic collars.. want to ban them too? these things are just TOOLS.. hammers kill.. bulls kill..horses kill.. cars kill.. heck even balloons kill
tools are only as good as the people who use them.. including shovels.. use one???