RANT: the driving dog walker

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    There is a woman in Arbor Heights who routinely exercises her dog by running it alongside her SUV as she spins around the neighborhood, rather than walking it like most normal people would do. She holds the leash out of the driver’s side window, with the dog running in the oncoming lane of traffic.

    This is wrong on so many levels I hardly know where to begin. She has been reported to Animal Control, who paid her a visit and cautioned her that if her dog were to be injured on one of these excursions, she could be charged with animal cruelty. The visit from AC did not deter her. Believe it or not, AC claims that this activity is not illegal (at least not under Animal Control guidelines) although they did recommend calling police.

    The dog could easily be run over by an oncoming vehicle, or fall under the wheels of the SUV. The driver is distracted, looking at the dog and not the road, so could run over a child, a pet, a legitimate dog-walker – or collide with another vehicle. Another driver, not seeing the dog until the last minute, might be forced to swerve off the road or into another vehicle or pedestrian. This behavior displays such a profound level of STUPID that it boggles the mind.

    Bluish Honda(?) SUV, stodgy, irresponsible and incredibly entitled blondish middle-aged female driver, large dog that appears to be a golden or lab mix. If you know who this is, or witness another event, please call police and get this (edited) to stop endangering the life of this dog, and who knows who (or what) else. Some people shouldn’t have pets, children – or driver’s licenses.






    Wow. Seriously? Some people should really stop and think whether they should get a pet. Wow.


    Besides all the terrible things that could happen to the dog, if I was driving and suddenly saw a dog on the center-side of an oncoming car, I think my mind would immediately assume the dog had somehow run under or past the car and was headed into my lane, and I would slam on the brakes. Unbelieveable.



    Can you share which neighborhood this is happening in just so that folks can maybe be more vigilant? Any specific times?



    Arbor Heights, often in the area of Arbor Heights Elementary, 37th Ave SW/SW 102nd St, late morning.

    Interestingly enough, I just googled the topic and came up with a number of links. In other cities (and countries, including England) people have been arrested for this practice – as they should be.



    Or at the very least given a steep ticket. Sounds incredibly dangerous for the dog and everyone else on or around the roadway. Just…wow.



    At the least she is keeping the dog on a leash.

    Maybe she is disabled and this is the only way she can give the dog some good exercise?



    *Checks calendar; determines it is not April 1st*

    Boggles the mind is right, and it’s gonna be a helluva long time before my mind unboggles.

    anonyme, if I didn’t “know” you, I’d swear this was a hoax post.

    In my mind, not only should this be illegal, it should actually be considered by law as animal cruelty, on the very likely potential for injury to the dog.

    Even if the law recognizes an animal as nothing more than an object it seems like it would be illegal to intentionally, or even negligently have an “object” protruding from your vehicle, into the oncoming lane, and causing a traffic hazard to others.

    But, dogs are not objects. They are living beings that can feel pain when injured.

    I would urge anyone that happens to witness her doing this, to call 911 immediately.




    Hormel, the possibility of her being disabled briefly crossed my mind as well, but that is no excuse for this type of behavior.




    Hormel, I thought of that as being the only possible excuse – except that it’s still no excuse. If you’re disabled and feel you must have a dog, you still have an obligation to properly care for that animal regardless of your own limitations. If you can’t afford a dog-walker, get a smaller dog – or a cat. Another neighbor in this area walks his dogs from his wheelchair, which they all seem to enjoy.

    A disability does not give one leave to abandon common sense, completely disregard traffic laws, and place the safety of virtually everyone else (including the dog) at risk. Of course, we don’t know if this person even has a disability, so the point is moot.



    Mike, I’m with you in thinking that this should be illegal, and I’m kind of amazed that Animal Control says it isn’t. I think it’s definitely a traffic infraction, though. Definitely not a hoax, though I wish it were!

    RCW 16.52.080 has language in regard to animal endangerment (although those actual words are not used) that I interpret to be relevant to the actions in question. But then, I’m not a lawyer, and I think it’s a state law, not City of Seattle – if that makes a difference. Anyone know?

    Maybe it’s just me, but Seattle seems to show reticence in enforcing just about…anything, short of murder. Even then. Animal Control also told me that there has never been a case of a dog being run over while chasing or running alongside a vehicle. Doesn’t that sound a bit improbable?



    anonyme: Thank your for caring.

    A few thoughts:

    1. If she is disabled, I’m going to guess we might be able to find some community volunteers that would take turns walking her dog. Perhaps flag her down and ask?

    2. Every time you see her doing this

    -get/confirm her license plate and (if possible) photo, which includes the dog. Photos have time ‘n’ date stamps so it will provide evidence of consistent behavior.

    -call the police. It seems that the (poor) dog is creating a traffic hazard and unsafe driving conditions for other drivers, e.g., they could swerve to avoid the dog and get hurt.

    3. Send the information in #2 above (license plate number and photos), to Don Jordan:

    Don Jordan, Executive Director


    (206) 386-4286

    Bringing his attention to this dangerous practice may result in a new Animal Control law….or perhaps he will have a different interpretation of a law that is already on the books.

    4. Send the information in #2 to our City Council. This may help initiate a new Animal Control law.

    Again, thank you for caring.



    funkietoo: thank YOU for caring, and for the useful suggestions!

    I don’t have a cell phone, which is why I haven’t taken pictures or called police as this was happening. In situations like this, the police usually need to observe for themselves. I did report the license number to Animal Control, which is how they were able to pay this individual a visit.

    Thank you for the specific links to City Council and others. That could be helpful; often, it’s just a matter of rattling enough cages to get a response!

    BTW, it just occurred to me that AC mentioned NOTHING in their report about this person having claimed to be disabled. If that were the case, I think it would have come up.



    I can only think it’s not illegal because nobody ever imagined it happening. Like the kid saying, “But you never told me not to jump off the roof.”


    FWIW, I have sent Don Jordan several professional/courteous emails over the years, most recently, as suggested in a WSB story. Have never had a reply.



    Aaargh what an IRRESPONSIBLE IDIOT.



    Hi anonyme,

    You are very welcome and thank you for your kind words.

    If someone on the blog would loan you a camera, would you be okay with taking photos (for a few days) and documenting this behavior. If so, let’s put the word out. (I’d loan you a camera, but I don’t have one either ;0)



    BWhahahahaha! I could only hope this was a joke.



    Whenever I see idiotic behavior, I think “It can’t get any worse than this” but of course I’m continually proven wrong. I’ve finally realized that human stupidity knows no bounds.



    I think this conduct might violate at least the City ordinance, if not a state statute. The Seattle Municipal Code, specifically SMC 9.25.084(F), provides that it is unlawful for an animal owner to “[t]ether an animal in such a manner as to permit the animal to enter any sidewalk, street, alley or place open to the public …” If a dog is on a leash outside a vehicle that’s being driven on public streets or alleys, then I think there’s a pretty good argument to be made that the driver (or owner) is violating the City ordinance. The Code treats this as a civil violation, not a crime, and the potential penalty is a fine of up to $500.

    Seattle Animal Control has a set of polices about enforcement, and it takes more than a single complaint about a violation to get AC to take action. Once AC has made a visit to the dog owner, the agency will not take further action until additional complaints are filed, the witness(es) speak with an Animal Control representative, and the witness(es) submit a detailed declaration regarding what they have seen. (AC supplies a declaration form after the witness contacts AC to speak to a representative.) The witness must be able to supply details about the incident or incidents. Further, if six months goes by between complaints about a person violating the Code, the process starts all over again from the beginning when a new complaint is submitted. This is all described on the Animal Control website here: http://www.seattle.gov/animalshelter/response.htm

    I understand that someone from Animal Control has already said that “walking” a dog in this manner is not illegal. I would not necessarily accept that as the final word. It could easily be that this type of behavior has not been the subject of complaints in the past, so no one at AC has taken a hard look to see if there is a code section that could be applied. The subsection I am focused on is in the area of “control” violations, as opposed to cruelty violations, and perhaps the AC officer did think beyond the cruelty provisions. But the title of a code section and its placement within a section or subsection do not affect the application of a law, provided the conduct fits the language that describes the violation.(Ultimately, a court can decide if a “new” way of applying the Code to some kind of conduct is appropriate.) Personally (not that what I think really matters), I see no reason why 9.25.084(F) would not apply here.

    There is also a state law related to transporting animals in an unsafe manner that could be applied here. That statute, RCW 16.52.080, provides, in part, that: “[a]ny person who wilfully transports … or causes to be transported … any domestic animal or animals in a manner, posture or confinement that will jeopardize the safety of the animal … shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.” A “domestic animal,” in the context of RCW 16.52 includes dogs. It may be a bit of a stretch to apply this statute to the situation, but if someone forced a dog to run alongside the car on a leash while the person drove from point A to point B, I could see that as a “manner” of “transporting” the dog that “jeopardizes” the dog’s safety. The dog would be in severe danger, whether from other cars, the car to which the dog is leashed, or from simple exhaustion.

    If I was witnessing what this dog’s owner has been doing to her dog, and was in a position to submit complaints to Animal Control, I would seriously consider directly pointing out these laws. It’s a whole lot easier to enforce existing laws than to create new ones.



    Waterworld, THANK YOU! I agree, I think the state statute should apply at the very least. I submitted a complaint the second time I saw this, and think I will submit another after seeing the same thing again today. Easy to dismiss a phone call, not so easy a written complaint. This time, I will also reference the statutes/codes mentioned above.



    We had a neighbor who used to do something similar, but without the leash. She’d get in her car and on the phone, driving slowly about the neighborhood’s residential streets and alleys while her large, beautiful, energetic dog would run circles around her car, run fore and aft. The neighbor, so far as all could tell, was not ill, injured, or without the means to hire a walker if needed. Just weird and dangerous.



    I saw this done on my last trip to Dallas and I thought it was amusing. However, the driver was in a side alley so there was no danger of oncoming traffic. Someone should suggest she “walk” her dog in the alleys instead.




    Here is what I can do FOR YOU. 2 options.

    1. I have a very small video camera and could even deliver right now, so you can start filming this.(I actually do not live far from you)

    2. I have friend who would be MORE than happy to come out and see this, but you not having a cell phone is an issue as you could not call her when you are seeing this. This could also help another person seeing this.

    SO if you are really serious about this contact me via email and lets get the ball rolling.





    Off topic but I just had to say, you know what I love about you Hammerhead? You are always ready and willing to physically do something to help – like deliver your camera – not to mention lending, giving, making things for people and their 4-legged kids.

    Love West Seattle! We are a great neighborhood!

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