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offleash dogs

Off leash dog kills sea lion pup - the dangers are REAL

We don’t usually cover out of area stories in Blubberblog - most always they are reported on the Breaking News page of our website. However, this breaking story out of Laguna Beach, CA, drives home our mantra to leash dogs at all times near the beach. A dog, on this California beach with his owner, broke free of his leash and grabbed an sick sea lion pup by the throat in front of screaming and crying witnesses, killing the pup. The owner was unable to get the “American Bulldog” to release his grip on the emaciated sea lion. It is apparently legal to take a leashed dog onto that beach. The cellphone video that has been shown on news and internet media is very graphic and, due to the many young readers who visit our blog, we choose not to link to it.

Dogs are not allowed on any Seattle beaches period, leashed or unleashed. That said, we can’t even begin to count the number of times during the year that we have to ask dog owners to please leash their dog and leave the beach. Dogs are a serious threat to a vulnerable seal pup - or for that matter, shore birds. This past year, a golden retriever killed a seal pup on Camano Island. It happens all too frequently. Thankfully, to our knowledge, it has not happened in West Seattle - yet; though we had a close call at Lincoln Park last year as a dog chased a pup back to the water, nearly catching him. A month or so later, again at Lincoln Park, an off leash dog attacked one of the resident geese, shaking and dragging the goose out into the Sound. The goose did survive.

The most common reply our volunteers hear at our request is, “My dog would never do anything.” That’s exactly what the owner of a “non-agressive” breed of dog on Bainbridge Island said to a stranding network volunteer a few years ago - minutes before her dog grabbed a resting seal pup, dragged him up into the woods and killed him.

Dogs are unpredictable animals. There is an innate instinct for the chase, which doesn’t bode well for a vulnerable animal or shorebird...or, for that matter, a young child. Too many times after volunteers have talked to dog owners, we’ve seen them struggle to get their dogs back on a leash, under control and off the beach. And, as you can see from the horrifying Laguna Beach story, a highly motivated dog can break free of a leash. So please help us remind owners to take responsibility - that along with the right to own dogs, comes the obligation to protect other animals and people from them. Even the sweetest of dogs has the potential to do great harm.
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