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LETTER: Injuries not unusual at off-leash park; users must pay attention

"Most regular users of the off-leash area of the park are well aware they must keep their eyes open and knees flexed when the dogs start running."
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Re: "Off-leash parks no place for dogs without manners," Editorial, The Gazette, June 16, and, "Broken ankle after hit at off-leash park," The Gazette, June 16.

First of all, the article written by Scott Hayes isn’t clear as to whether the injured woman was walking within the off-leash area or the paths around the lake where dogs are to be leashed.

I am the owner of two large Newfoundland dogs. My boy Merlin is 81 kilograms, and my female Maggie is 52 kilograms at nine months. My dogs are well trained and gentle animals. Maggie is being trained as a show dog and knows how to behave. They both walk beside me, leashed or not. They both come when called. I would say they have manners. That said, the fact is, they are dogs and dogs like to run and chase other dogs. This is in their canine DNA and a part of their socialization.

Most regular users of the off-leash area of the park are well aware they must keep their eyes open and knees flexed when the dogs start running. A dog weighing 81 kilograms running at 30 km/h will take your knees out and do a lot of damage. I know this first-hand, as about four years ago my other 63-kilogram Newfie was chasing my girlfriend's Husky and came up behind us, knocking me down and dislocating my girlfriend's knee, causing her four months of rehab.

I am constantly sharing that story and telling people to watch carefully. With all the new dog owners coming to the park like this woman, there are bound to be more injuries. In fact, if you ask the fire department, they will tell you they are called to the park often. Lacombe Lake Park is a popular place on a sunny weekend. I see people standing around talking on cell phones or engaged in conversation, and not paying attention. My suggestion is the city put up signs saying, "Use at your own risk and pay attention."

Al Fraser, St. Albert