Monday, 25 October 2021

Davis: Who let the dogs out?

Clearlake presents many opportunities for leisure activities as does most of California.

When I was younger, my family used to visit Clearlake and spend time at one of the properties they owned. I always had a great time and hold those memories dear to my heart. The days of grilling in the park, walking the various shorelines enhanced my familial connections.

I could hear the dogs barking in the background, but do not remember worrying about whether or not those dogs were lurking in dark corners, strolling in packs or invading my yard in search of food or shelter.

Over the past few years that has all changed and roaming dogs have become somewhat of the norm. It is not unusual to encounter one or more dogs while gardening in your unfenced yard, walking to your car in the Walmart parking lot or while watching your children play in the local park.

Roaming dogs are everywhere and many of them are aggressive, unvaccinated and just plain unruly. This presents a quality-of-life issue for the citizens of Clearlake.

This new norm invades the lives of the elderly and does not allow them the freedom to walk the neighborhoods in which many of them have lived for decades. Roaming dogs present a clear danger to children playing in front of their homes.

Why should an elderly citizen be faced with having to decide if it is safe for them to walk down the street to the market and why should a parent have the burden of wondering when a roaming pack of dogs appears in their yard? The answer is simple: They shouldn’t! This quality of life issue is countywide and deserves attention.

I decided to take a drive on several different days and at several different times and was amazed that on each drive I was presented with a dog or dogs out on a walk-a-bout. This did not just happen on one occasion but on multiple occasions.

And before you ask, yes, I have called animal control and on some occasions, I have even picked the dog up and attempted to return it to the rightful owner. Whether dead on the side of the road or darting in between traffic, the dogs are there. I kept asking myself, who let the dogs out?

It is important to acknowledge that Clearlake Animal Control does the very best they can with the resources allotted to them via the city budget. There are no additional state funds allocated to Clearlake for the control and care of roaming animals.

As summer approaches and the inevitability of children playing becomes reality, this is an issue that needs to be addressed. These are your children, your grandparents and sometimes even yourself, that will be assaulted by the roaming dogs.

A mother should not have to worry whether or not her child will be rushed by a wandering dog nor should local residents have to survey the street before attempting to enter their car. No citizen should be curtailed from enjoying the many wonderful opportunities Clearlake has to offer simply because they fear the roaming dogs.

I encourage all of us to take a look around at what is happening and to decide to do something about it. Stop calling animal control with raised voices because they do not possess the capacity to immediately respond to the dog roaming on your street. Stop placing the blame on them and place it where it belongs, with the small budget allowed to address a big problem.

Attend the city council meetings to express the desperate need for more funding, offer to foster for animal control, offer to go to the improved shelter and tend to the animals that cross the threshold on a daily basis. Do something!

Leash your own dog and stop telling everyone how friendly they are as you walk them off leash through neighborhoods where children play freely as summer approaches. Be proactive. Get involved. Leash and contain your own dogs.

Large scale improvement starts with one small step. Take the step!

Christine Y. Davis lives in Clearlake, California.

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