LETTER: To dog owners in the sea to sky

I am writing from my couch where I am lying debilitated and in pain.  I have a severely swollen ankle/mid-calf  from an injury caused by an encounter with an off-leash dog that occurred within one of the on-leash trails near Squamish Golf Course.  After two days I am not yet able to weight bear more than one hour without pain.

I am in my 60s and am an avid and experienced trail runner. I admit to being a bit nervous around dogs, having been bitten several times over the years by dogs whose owners assured me “He is friendly — wouldn’t harm a flea.” I am acutely aware that recovery time from soft tissue ankle turning injuries just increases with age and I deeply regret the time I must now endure away from my favourite activity.

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I am also angry. This didn’t need to happen. I was doing an easy run — only about seven kilometres on almost flat river trails from the old SPCA up to my home in Garibaldi Highlands. Only a couple of kilometres in on my run through easy forest trails, I came around a corner and came up on a couple with an off-leash dog who took exception to my presence and lunged at me, growling. I stepped back in fear and tripped on a root, turning my ankle severely. To their credit, the owners immediately put the dog on leash, but the damage was done. I was almost able to make it home using a branch for support with an ever increasingly swelling ankle. A kind neighbour recognized my distress trying to walk up Highland Boulevard hill and took me the rest of the way home — thank heavens!

I am writing this because this has happened to me one too many times now. I do not understand why dog owners cannot follow the rules and keep their animals in check. Why should I have to pay the price for their inability to follow the rules? My adult children are here to visit next week and all I want to do is hike with them — something we have looked forward to for months.

I will not be able to go on all our planned trips now.

I understand that injuries can occur at any time for any number of reasons, including inattention, etc.

However, I do not appreciate being sabotaged by a dog owner.

We all use the trails and that means we all need to respect the rules that make the trails usable for all of us. It’s just not that hard!

-Katherine Mitchell

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