Coyote Run: The website of Deb and Kate Eldredge
HomeDeb Eldredge DVMKate EldredgeThe Dogs of Coyote RunBooks by Deb and Kate EldredgeArticlesOur Favorite Links


Every day many dogs die, often painful deaths, due to the lack of a leash. That leash could be as simple as parachute cord or as fancy as custom tooled leather. What is important is that the leash is attached to a caring owner. A dog on a leash attached to a responsible person has a much greater likelihood of a long, healthy life than a dog running free.

While on a leash, your dog has a greatly reduced risk of being hit by a car, being injured in a dog fight, getting lost or being stolen. Disease risks drop as you can limit your dog's contact with other dogs and with their areas of elimination. Your dog won't be in contact with wild animals. A leash can even stop a dog from picking up dangerous trash or eating rotten litter or food left around.

Leashed dogs make good neighbors and good ambassadors both for their breed and for dogdom in general. No trash raids, no eliminating on lawns or urinating on prized bushes. No digging up gardens or chasing cats. Joggers and bike riders are safe from pursuit. Your canine companion can't be accused of biting anyone or of siring or whelping an unintended litter.

A dog on a leash is a law abiding citizen. Virtually all communities have some sort of leash law. This can range from restrictions for certain areas or certain times of year (most communities outlaw dogs running loose during the winter months when they might harass deer and other wildlife in the deep snow). New York has a STATE mandated leash law going back to the rabies epidemic which states that a dog that is off its owner's property must be on leash - can not be "at large".

;Many people move to a suburban or rural area figuring that now they can truly give Rover "room to run" and a chance "to be free". It is equally, if not more important, that rural dogs be leashed or confined. Dogs seen running deer or harassing or worrying livestock can be destroyed on sight with no liability to the person defending the livestock or deer.

I would like to share with you a personal tragic story of two cute pet dogs allowed to run free. We have animals on our small farm - horses, ducks, sheep and my son's pet goat along with our house pets. To keep my animals safe I put up 4 ft. high tightly woven stock fence (literally so tight & so close to the ground that my ducks can't squeeze under or through it). I did this after a neighbor's dog killed a number of my ducks last year.

Picture two cute pet dogs - about 30 to 35# each, breed is not important as it could be ANY breed or any mix. Dogs who slept in the house that night and were fed that morning in a bowl in the kitchen. Not feral dogs, not coy dogs, not hungry dogs, not big "tough" dogs. Pet dogs who someone did not quite care enough about to leash or confine. Pet dogs left to run free and enjoy the day while the family went off to work or school. Pet dogs who had been spotted chasing deer and undoubtedly killing some.

Now picture a gorgeous fall day - bright blue sky, beautiful leaves. A small flock of mixed breed sheep and one lovely young dairy goat named Molly. Molly was more of a pet than many dogs - she came to her name, knew some tricks, walked on hikes with us. She loved Cheerios and sliced apple. She was my 7 yr old son's pet and a beloved family member.

I was at the barn around 10 am and all was well. At 11 am I took my Belgian Tervuren Beep and headed to the barn to do some herding practice. I immediately knew something was wrong. The sheep were all tightly flocked together and there was no sign of Molly. As I ran and turned the corner of the barn I saw something that will remain in my nightmares for the rest of my life.

Molly had positioned herself between the two dogs and the sheep who she lived with and considered part of her family. She was fighting desperately. These two dogs were savagely mauling her. Her left front leg was partly torn off, her tail ripped almost off, her nose bitten right through the bridge. In less than an hour, those cute little pet dogs had put over 200 punctures in Molly.

I rushed Molly to my clinic, put in an IV and treated her for shock, then raced her to Cornell where she went into the Intensive Care Unit. Molly fought for 36 hours, then the brave little goat lost her battle.The dogs were lucky - a quick, fairly painless death.

We have three innocent victims here. A brave little goat and two dogs who deserved some training and responsible ownership. These dogs had obviously killed before. They had to be extremely determined to climb/jump that fence and then to persist attacking in the face of a 120# goat who was trying to fight them off. Once dogs have run deer or killed livestock, they continue to do so. It is next to impossible to break that habit. If their owner had just confined them or used a leash, three wonderful animals would be alive today.

I can only hope that Molly's legacy will be that everyone who reads this passes it on, encourages puppy buyers, training class students, people at public demonstrations, shelter workers, all dog owners to leash or confine their dogs. The life they save could be their own dog's.

By Debra M. Eldredge, DVM
Free to reprint courtesy of GoodDog!

Back to top

© 2010 Deb Eldredge DVM • Web design by Terry Albert