, Salem, MA


January 10, 2014

Ask Dog Lady: West Highland terrier’s antics concern owner


She has a very small yard. The dogs freely wander into our yard, and she constantly yells at them not to. They really aren’t bad dogs and do listen to her for the most part. My major concern is that the dogs don’t get enough exercise. She picks up the poop (so far).

My senior citizen neighbor is terrified of dogs. I mentioned this to the new neighbor and she said, “I don’t care.” She is a neighbor, and I want to get off on the right foot, but I just had to bite my tongue to avoid saying something nasty.

What should I do? The dogs seem happy enough, and they are obviously the only thing she really cares about. However, I don’t think she realizes not walking them is bad for her, the neighbors and the dogs themselves. Should Animal Control be called to check on their welfare?

A: This graphic case study of your new neighbor reminds us all that dogs can be a divisive issue in close-crowded urban areas. Some cities do put limits on dog ownership. You should call your city’s Animal Control office to check on this. You should also check in with Animal Control to see how to handle this situation. You don’t want to dime out the new neighbor, but you can register your concern anonymously. No one is legally obligated to walk pet dogs. Still, the animals should not hinder the safe enjoyment of others’ homes and property.

Dog Lady cringes. Urban dog owners have no entitlement. They must be scrupulously responsible and not infringe upon anyone else. Dog Lady is no goody-goody, but she is a scaredy-cat about cities and towns imposing legal restrictions because of a few rotten dog owners who do not pick up the poop and do not properly train or handle their animals. Your new neighbor stretches the limit.

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