Have Dogs Evolved Past the Leash?

Do dogs using the City’s natural areas and trails need to be leashed? Or, has the species evolved past that need? City Club of Corvallis will host a debate on this subject next Monday noon at the Boys & Girls Club.

Panelists will include Ashleigh Harris of Unleash Your Love Corvallis, the group supporting Measure 2-22 slated for November’s ballot; the proposed law would disallow the use of leashes on public lands within Benton County. Also on the dais, Lena McReynolds of Benton County Dog Rescue and an animal behavior professor and researcher at Oregon State, she opposes the measure.

Harris, a credit card processing machine sales rep by trade, was spurred to research on the subject of canine leash dynamics 3 months ago after an incident atop the trail at Bald Hill Park in which she and her dog encountered a Rottweiler and its owner walking the opposite direction. Harris says, “My unleashed Boston Terrier growlingly charged the larger leashed dog, and embarrassingly I had to explain that my dog never does that sort of thing, and the other dogs owner looked unconvinced.” She continued, “He even seemed amused by dog’s name, Zen.”

Harris also recount the Rottweiler’s owner explaining that his dog was not friendly with other dogs when leashed, and that she wondered why he would then leash him. She later learned that some dog owners are worried that their dogs will wander and become lost. This is when she chose to form an action committee, eventually gathering signatures for the upcoming ballot measure. Harris said, “It’s not that I don’t support people that have the kinds of dogs that may run off and get lost without a leash, I just think those of us with more highly evolved dogs, like my Zen, should be free from leashed dogs and the judgment of their owners.”

We asked McReynolds for her side of the argument, but she replied she was already up to her knees in Loaf.

Slated for noon on August 8, debate attendance is free. You can preregister for a lunch catered by the Corvallis School District Kitchen at the City Club of Corvallis website.

-By Harlan Walker