Once again I am sitting in my kitchen after my morning walk with my sweet senior dog, Sneaky Pete, with my heart pounding out of my chest and anxiety ridden over a petrifying encounter with a charging dog whose owner thought it would be “cool and macho” to walk this dog without a leash.

I always make sure my Sneaky Pete has his harness and leash on securely when heading out for our daily walks. I carry all the necessities ... waste disposal bags (aka poop bags), water, cell phone and after several terrifying encounters with unleashed dogs in the past, my necessities now sadly must include pepper spray and a loud whistle.

This morning’s encounter proved my “necessities” were indeed necessary. As we rounded the corner towards home, we encountered a large Boxer/pitbull mix apparently out for his walk with his very irresponsible human who thought it was a great idea to take this large dog out in a busy residential neighborhood full of kids and other dogs who do have responsible humans without a leash.

Now this owner probably thought his dog “was trained, he always listens to me, he is friendly so why should I leash him?”

Well, I do not know his dog and when this 60-plus-pound dog came charging at my dog full force barking, he should not have been surprised much less angry that I used the pepper spray I carry. No he did not appear friendly, his hackles were up and his tail was not wagging. My dog is a mushball and would not hurt a fly.

I felt bad for this dog that he has such an owner who neglected to keep him safe by following the leash laws in Kenosha. I feel bad that in charging towards us full speed he tripped on the uneven sidewalk/grass and also seemed to injure his leg as he was limping after the pepper spray did its job and sent him away from me and my terrified dog.

However, the irresponsible pet owner’s reaction was both shocking and sad. He was angry at me. Why? For protecting myself and my sweet senior dog? For following the leash law? For calling him out on his stupidity? I’m sorry but I just don’t understand that reaction.

I firmly believe that people should have to go through training to have the privilege of dog ownership (for that matter ownership of any animal). I have worked with animals most of my adult life both professionally and as a responsible pet owner. I’ve seen too many dogs attacked to the point where they had to be euthanized due to off-leash dog attacks, aggressive dogs in dog parks and other irresponsible pet ownership issues. It’s a very sad situation and one that is easily preventable.

Over the years my husband and I have had numerous encounters with irresponsible pet owners. I’m just a bit confused as to why the irresponsible pet owners feel that they are the victims of injustice?

It doesn’t matter if you have a Chihuahua, Border Collie, Cocker Spaniel, mixed breed etc. ... the leash law should be followed as it is for everyone’s safety including your pet. To clarify any confusion below is the Kenosha city ordinance regarding dogs being on a leash:

D.1. Run at Large. It shall be unlawful for any person owning or possessing any dog or cat to permit it to run at large. “Run at Large” shall mean the presence of an animal which is not on a secured leash of six (6’) feet or less on any public property or thoroughfare or on any private property without the permission of the property owner or occupier. Dogs and cats which are not leashed in vehicles are not deemed to “run at large” if they are secured in a manner as will prevent their escape therefrom. This requirement does not apply to dogs utilized for law enforcement purposes.

And to further clarify, public property does include sidewalks, streets, parkways, public parks, etc.

As a community we need to step up; if you are a pet owner please be responsible. I think it’s wonderful to take your dog for a walk but please make sure they’re on a leash ... it’s a pretty simple solution to keep everyone safe.

If you want to give your dog the opportunity to run unleashed and do not have a fenced yard, take them to an appropriate dog park but make sure you have the appropriate vaccinations, the dog is spayed or neutered and has a valid dog park license that is required to do so and make sure that your dog is indeed a friendly dog and not prone to unprovoked attacks.

Shannon Adamczyk is an animal lover/advocate who lives in Kenosha.