Santa Fe, NM – June 8, 2017.
Last week, a visitor to the Santa Fe National Forest was resting on a rock by the trail after hiking up Tesuque Peak Road from the Aspen Vista Picnic Site. His idyllic afternoon took a turn for the worse when an 80-pound pit bull – running free – charged him with teeth bared. The hiker had the wherewithal to thrust his walking stick between his face and the dog’s jaws. Then the dog took another try, knocking the 74-year-old 150-pound man off the rock.
Fortunately, bruises and cuts from the fall were the extent of his injuries, but it could have been much worse. And, even though he’s a lifelong hiker, he said it’s going to take him a while to get over the experience.
Where was the dog’s owner? According to the hiker, she walked up to him with leash in hand, made no effort to control her dog and berated the hiker for “harassing” her dog.
This is a reminder that dogs are welcome on the Santa Fe National Forest, but we ask owners to take responsibility for the safety of their pets and other visitors.
National Forest Service guidelines require pets to be on a leash no longer than six feet at all times in developed recreation areas, parking lots and on interpretive trails. The rest of the forest falls under local county ordinances. For Tesuque Peak Road and other trails along NM Highway 475, that means Santa Fe County which requires dogs to be “under leash or under control of the owner.” The ordinance further defines “control” as the dog responding to sound commands or coming to its owner on command.
Be sensitive to the fact that other visitors, especially children, may not be comfortable around dogs. And your dog may not like other dogs it encounters on the trail. Make sure you have constant control of your dog. Carry a leash and use it when necessary and appropriate. Don’t let your dog wander off trail where it might encounter wildlife.
And yes, even though you are in the woods, you still have to clean up after your dog. Dog waste can spread disease to wild animals and contaminate water. And please don’t leave the poop bag along the trail. Picking it up and carrying it out to the nearest trash can is just common courtesy to other forest visitors.
Featured image by Tobin, courtesy of Flickr.