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July 11: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on trooper Rottweiler shooting:

Posted: Monday, July 17, 2000

The Rottweiler shooting last month generated several distinct volleys of discussion on this page.

We heard from letter writers who pointed out, quite rightly in our opinion, that Alaska State Troopers are under no obligation to suffer bites before defending themselves. We heard from others who noted that it's no invasion of privacy for troopers to stop and investigate vehicles parked on the shoulders of highways.

We also sadly heard from people who apparently value the charging Rottweiler's life above the trooper's own. Many of those writers seem preoccupied with the exact sequence of events that placed this trooper in this particular angry dog's path.

We didn't hear much comment about the underlying cause of this entire unfortunate confrontation.

Isn't it obvious that Missy, the Rottweiler killed after jumping from the rear of a flat bed, or by some accounts an open trailer -- should have been restrained?

A tether or chain would have kept the dog riding where her master intended. Ordinances mandating such restraints are already on the books in Anchorage, Juneau and numerous other municipalities around the country. In Janesville, Wis., for instance, the typical fine for transporting an unrestrained dog in the rear of a pickup truck is $212, according to the city's Web page. And that penalty applies to first time offenders.

We're not suggesting fines of such magnitude are appropriate on the dog- and truck-happy Last Frontier. But we Alaskans know better than most the value of a good dog; mandatory restraints should be viewed as a protective measure.

According to a 1997 survey of Massachusetts veterinarians, some 600 dogs a year were injured in that state riding unsecured in the back of trucks. No statistics are kept on such accidents within the Fairbanks North Star Borough, but it's not uncommon for Animal Control to field calls about dogs observed jumping from trucks.

Unrestrained dogs are only part of the problem. Animal Control sometimes gets gruesome calls about dogs being dragged to death after being fastened to one side of an open truck, or with an overly long chain.

The Juneau ordinance was crafted to avoid such tragedies. It requires the use of a cross tether, anchoring dogs by the collar in the center of a truck bed to ensure they aren't injured by leaping or being thrown from a moving vehicle.

Isn't it about time the local borough assembly extended our canine buddies this simple lick of protection?



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