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Ed Jorden, DMV PET VET

Dear Dr. Jorden: I run the Farmer’s Market, which is outdoors, and we have a problem with people bringing their dogs to the market.

There are lots of people and the dogs cause a lot of problems. Can you tell people to not bring their dogs to public places?

I have to agree with you that a dog in a public, crowded situation is a disaster waiting to happen.

First, a lot of dogs frighten young children and even some older people. You know your dog is friendly, but others do not. Some people have had bad experiences with dogs, and they are afraid of any dog.

Not all people think a slobbery kiss from a dog is heartwarming – hard to imagine, I know.

Second, when more than one dog is present, there is a potential for a dog fight. People tell me all the time, “My dog wouldn’t fight or bite,” and that is when it usually does just that. Even if you are the first person the dog has ever bitten, it still hurts. Even a friendly dog in a new situation with lots of people and other animals can misbehave.

The pet owner who brings his dog to public places also has quite a liability to think about. Suppose a small child grabs the dog’s ear or tail and gives it a good yank in this crowded market area. You can see why most any dog would react with a nip or maybe more of a bite.

Even though that child should not be allowed to pull a dog’s tail, it happens and cannot always be prevented. With your dog’s face at the level of a small child’s face, a nip or bite could be devastating.

Then there is the situation when someone comes carrying a cat. Now the statement becomes, “Oh, my dog loves cats” – but the cat doesn’t know that and usually reacts by climbing up the owner’s face with all claws out, jumping out of protecting arms, running off and being run over in the street.

It just seems better to leave your pet in the car or at home.

Related to this subject is that pet owners should always have their pets under control when they visit the veterinary office as well.

This is a public place that they can come, but under control means cats in a carrier of some sort or at least on a leash. Dogs should be on a leash as soon as the car door opens and never allowed to run loose in the parking lot or office.

When in the office, keep your pet isolated from the others and never let your dog or cat go “visit” someone else’s pet in the waiting room.

One disaster comes to mind. A big, friendly Old English sheepdog was brought in because he fell out of the back of a pickup – mistake number one was to let him run loose in the back of a pickup.

We performed surgery to repair a very badly broken back leg, and he was ready to go home a couple of days later.

The owner took the leash off of his dog immediately when we brought him to the waiting area. There seemed to be some type of idea that “my dog doesn’t need a leash.”

As soon as the door to the outside was opened, the dog raced on three legs outside, across the parking lot, into the street and was run over and killed.

Do dogs need to be on a leash and under control? I think so.

If you would think of your pet as a constant 2-year-old child and watch over him as you would a child of that age, you will be handling your pet just about right.Have questions about pets? Write to: PetVet; c/o The Billings Gazette; P.O. Box 36300; Billings, Mont. 59107-6300. Questions of general interest may become topics of future columns.

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