Emotions run high when the subject turns to pets in general, and dogs in particular. A local paper in Houston is carrying a story about an incident in San Francisco in which a jogger’s kick killed a dog.
The situation began when a woman was walking her two dogs, both pugs. It seems that she was cutting across the grounds of an elementary school. Her dogs were not on a leash, though she said later that she was trying to put a leash on one of them at the time. According to reports, an unidentified man came running around a corner, evidently taking a morning jog. He was headed in a direction away from the woman and her dogs. One of the 15-pound dogs chased after him, so he kicked it and it died. He then found someone with a cellular telephone and contacted the police. The woman’s version was different. She said that she had called the dog, and that it was already turning around to come back to her when the jogger went out of his way to kick the dog, causing its death.
Most municipalities have passed ordinances which require owners to keep dogs under control. In the City of Houston, for instance, Section 6-3 of the Houston Code of Ordinances prohibits owners of domestic animals from permitting them to “run at large.” (By enacting § 822.007 of the Texas Health & Safety Code, the Texas Legislature has expressly authorized municipalities to adopt leash laws.) Section 6-2 of the Code further makes it the responsibility of the owner or possessor of an animal to “ensure that such animal does not run at large.” “Running at large” is defined by Section 6-1 as “the going upon public or private property by an animal without the owner or person in charge thereof having direct physical control over the animal.” (Emphasis added.)
Thus, in the City of Houston, a dog that chases after a jogger would not be under the “direct physical control” of the owner. So, a dog that was loose on the grounds of a school would be “running at large.”
The violent death of a beloved pet dog is a sad event. It is unclear which version of the actual incident is correct. However, what is clear is that the entire situation likely could have been avoided had the dogs been on leashes when the jogger was in the vicinity.