Utah authorities putting pet owners on a short leash after dog attacks

Posted at 2:50 PM, May 06, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-06 16:59:44-04

PARK CITY, Utah - Now that the weather is warming up, more Utahns are heading out with their pets to enjoy the day.

However, not everyone is enjoying the outdoors, according to authorities.

Officers said some pet owners are letting their dogs off the leashes and it's leading to some vicious attacks.

"We had a situation back on April 20, a dog off leash attacked an elderly gentleman, actually bit him," Park City Police Capt. Phil Kirk said. "He was wearing loose clothing so it didn't penetrate his skin. He felt like he had to escape by climbing up a tree."

Officials said even emergency crews have had their run ins with off-leash pets.

"We had our fire chief that was running the trails coming around a corner and was bitten by a dog," Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez said. "It's happening far too often."

In Summit County, your dogs must be on a leash unless you're on private property or a designated area like a dog park.

If you don't, you could face fines up to $200.

If your dog attacks someone, the fine is about $500.

Park City resident Kitty Imdahl, a dog owner herself, said she knows dogs need room to roam but the owner is ultimately responsible.

"I don`t know why those couple of dogs, couple of bad apples, spoil the bunch," Imdahl said. "Why those dogs attack, I was shocked that a lab attacked somebody."

It can be tough for law enforcement to deal with animal encounters.

A few recent cases have had bad outcomes where dogs have been shot and killed.

Summit County deputies go through a training course where they learn skills like how to read a dog's body language.

"A lot of dogs aren`t actively aggressive, they`re just protecting their homes," Martinez said.