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Before relocating to North Carolina, Charlie Thronson was taking his dogs, Theo and Sweet Pea, for one more stroll in Murray Park. After his walk, Thronson says he was 50 yards away when the unthinkable occurred.
“Out of the blue comes this large terrier, 80–90 pounds, it attacked me and one of my dogs… I tried to fight off the dog, then it grabbed my one dog by its head, shook it and ran off with it,” Thronson said.
Although the attack was stopped by a good Samaritan, Thronson initially believed his dog, Theo, had passed away until he noticed faint breathing. In the chaos, his second dog, Sweet Pea, disappeared. She was eventually discovered in the nearby Starbucks, but her brother Theo was seriously hurt.
“He had torn all the flesh off the back of his neck, right now he looks like he’s going to make it from what was really a horrific attack,” Thronson said.
Off-leash dogs, according to Thronson, are a frequent issue at Murray and other Salt Lake County Parks. As the population has increased, he says he is increasingly concerned about children, the elderly, and other dogs who might be attacked by an off-leash dog.
“It’s really not the dog’s fault, it’s the owner’s fault that refuses to obey the law and refuses to recognize the risk that that poses,” Thronson said.
Leashes are necessary for all of Salt Lake County’s communities, according to Ryan Degrey of the Salt Lake County Animal Services, though the specifics of the ordinance in each city may differ.
“What that requires is an animal is under the physical control of a leash or something that acts like a leash,” Degrey said.
He added, “You could be fined, you could be issued a criminal citation, you could be liable for restitution where you would be paying for somebody’s medical bills, vet treatment bills, property damage.”
Many individuals claim they are unaware of leash restrictions in public parks due to a lack of signage and uncertainty over what is considered an on-leash and off-leash area.
More signage, according to Thronson, is a straightforward solution that might help in preventing attacks like what happened with his dogs.
“County posts five or six signs that say it is illegal to have a dog off-leash and then a phone number you can call if you see a dog off-leash,” Thronson said.
You can check the website of Salt Lake County Animal Services to learn more about the leash regulations in your area. And if you or your dog is attacked by another animal, you should call animal control.