Animal problems

Picture of dog chasing man Though Los Alamosans occasionally encounter coyotes or even mountain lions while walking, the great majority of pedestrian problems caused by animals involve domestic dogs. Typical reports to LA Walks include:

  • Dogs on private property barking and charging at fences adjacent to sidewalks when a pedestrian passes.

  • Dogs loose on the street attacking pedestrians, or attacking leashed dogs being walked.

  • Unleashed dogs chasing joggers.

  • Dog excrement on sidewalks.

These conditions are always unpleasant, and may be dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.7 million people in the U.S. are bitten by domestic dogs each year, almost 800,000 require medical attention, and on average 17 (mostly children) are killed.

Most dog incidents can be attributed to irresponsible owners who don't clean up after their dogs, don't keep them under control, or fail to provide obedience training for their pets. In some cases, dogs may behave unpredictably when exposed to a novel stimulus.

What can you do? Responsible pet owners will be responsive to complaints, so notifying the dog's owner is a good first step. If that fails, or if the owner can't be identified, call the County Animal Control department at (505) 662-8177. In case of emergency, dial 911. County Animal Control can also advise you on the laws pertaining to animals, and legal recourse for persistent problems or bites.

Here is some additional information on avoiding dog attacks, and what to do if attacked. Be aware that there is no specific advice that is guaranteed to work for all dogs in all situations.

  • Avoiding dog attacks - advice for walkers and joggers

  • Advice for bike riders on coping with dogs; more advice.

  • Pepper spray or mace is often recommended as protection against dog attacks. You should not use these, or any other weapon (such as a stun gun) without training. The Police Department or Animal Control may be able to advise you on this. We have not found any definitive information on how effective these measures are.

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