This bit of mischief does not involve Elka, as I was work.
Somebody came into the library and said there was a brown dog running around in the park with no owners in sight.
So I grabbed my phone and went outside, figuring I could assess whether the dog was approachable and then either catch the dog and call the owner (provided said dog was tagged appropriately) or call the police to come and do their dog wardeny things.
I went out, and the dog was one I recognized as one the owner had claimed was a service dog in order to gain entry to the library. She's a pretty caramel colored girl, well behaved, and I had no reason to doubt such a claim. In the library, she'd just stayed in a Down and not made a move or a peep. Kind of alarmed for the owner, I called the dog, who cast me a happy look and then ran up the hill to the park bench, where the owner sat with two other people, back turned.
I followed, and said the requisite "Excuse me, is this your dog?"
The owner said "Yes, IT'S A SERVICE DOG."
"It's fine if you're here in the park with your dog, but she has to be leashed."
"She's wearing a leash." The owner picked up said leash.
"Yes, she's dragging a leash. I don't want you to get in trouble with the police, and I don't want her to get run over for running into the road or parking lot."
"Oh, she's a service dog. She's very well behaved, she stays right with me. She walks herself." At this point, since the dog had been all over the park BY HERSELF, including at the lower end of the park, which is down a hill and through trees and by another road entirely, I'm beginning to get a little suspicious regarding her service dog nature. But, "service dog" doesn't mean you get a free pass; the dog still has to behave in a matter compatible with the business. Running around loose in a 15 acre "No loose dogs" park isn't really in line with that.
"Just keep her with you." Which was my entire point, really. Lots of people who don't want to be approached by dogs come through the library park. Lots of bikes and skateboards. Lots of cars whipping through the adjacent parking lot. Keep your service dog with you. Good rule of thumb, yeah? I was basing my actions on the ADA Commonly Asked Questions about Service Dogs, where it says "A: You may exclude any animal, including a service animal, from your facility when that animal's behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others."
As I walked away, the owner yelled "I HATE THIS COUNTY IT'S RACIST." I went back.
"Do you think I came out here because your dog's a pit bull? My dog is a Doberman. I dont' cate."
"So a Chihuahua has to be on a leash."
"There was one out here without a leash."
"Okay, where are they? I'll yell at them too."
"My dog's a good dog. She walks Chihuahuas. She's done this in front of cops."
"All right. Take care."
So....when a law says "Dogs must be restrained by a leash of no longer than six feet", I take that to mean "the owner must be holding the leash while it is attached to the dog." That's kind of what "restrained" means. It's what leashes are for. I'm obviously a fan of them, as training and safety devices (I've reviewed several, from DogIDs bison leather to a multifunctional European leash to the EZYDog Cujo)
I understand that service dogs go where a dog normally would not be allowed. I also get that service dogs deserve breaks. I wasn't saying her dog couldn't be at the park, I wasn't asking them to leave, I wasn't asking what her disability was or what the dog was trained to do. I was asking her to keep the dog away from the road and the parking lot while nobody was holding her leash.