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Dog owners arming themselves with pepper spray to fend off unleashed dogs

Dog owners arming themselves with pepper spray to fend off unleashed dogs

There's a dog fight going on in South Reno. This one is between the dog owners.

The Double Diamond Ranch Walking/Bike Path in South Meadows is very popular with walkers, runners, bikers and dog owners. But some of those dog owners let their pooches off-leash and it's raising the hackles of other dog walkers.

Dennis, who didn't want his last name released for fear of retaliation says he walks his two small dogs along the trail.

"The main issue is the people who tend to have the larger dogs are less likely to have them on leash. And most people with smaller dogs tend to have them leashed," he said. "We go out every day, we just are smart about it," he said.

Dennis said is small dogs are no match against those larger dogs that have been off-leash, coming up to his.

"My main concern is that a little dog like this will be killed or injured very badly from that kind of an encounter," Dennis said.

Dennis is one of several people who are arming themselves with pepper spray in case an off-leashed dog starts a fight. Dennis says has created some heated arguments on the neighborhood association's web page and some tense words on the trail.

Animal Services says it's a Washoe County law to have your dog leashed in a congested area, unless you're in a dog park or it is otherwise marked.

"Your dog may not want a dog off leash approaching you. It may cause some anxiety to that animal. It may cause a dog fight as a result," said Shyanne Schull the Washoe County Regional Animal Services Director.

Fines range from $100 to $400.

News 4 spotted several dogs off their leash. One was a puppy owned by Tom Martin. He kept the leash attached to the dog as he played catch with her. He says it's easier to grab her if needed.

"It's kind of hard to run after her with the ball. If she has the ball she's not going to go running after someone," Martin said.

But Darcy Burton said he sees dogs off-leash every day along the trails and near-by parks.

"It's bad. Oh it's bad," he said.

He's concerned every time he takes his Pit Bulls for walks.

"A lot of times I don't come out because the dogs are running loose in the park and I've got little pitties and they don't like loose dogs running up to them. "

Mark Azizi is worried about his and his three small dogs' safety.

"I have a little knife just in case. I don't know if it's going to protect us. But it's better than nothing," Azizi said.

Dennis said he's called Animal Services several times for help but they don't make it out in time to see the violations.

"We're busy. We have anywhere from seven to eight officers on at any given time and we cover the entire county so we're busy and it's unfortunate that we're not able to be all places at once but we do our best," said Schull.

Those handful of officers are responsible for covering all of Washoe County-- more than 6,500 square miles.

Staff at the Washoe County Regional Animal Services launched a Park Patrol pilot program in late 2017 with a goal to focus on education and mitigation addressing issues with animals in parks, including off-leash violations. They've visited 23 parks so far. The first phase of the program is primarily focused on education involving leash and license laws. The second phase involves enforcement.

Animal Services handled over 34,000 calls for service in 2017. 25% were for animals at large.

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