GUEST COLUMN: Don’t run your dog beside a bicycle

Sheila Kozmin

On that very hot first Friday of this past September local temperatures hovered at 30 C., feeling more like 39 C. with the humidex factored in.

While comfortably driving in my air-conditioned car I was aghast to observe a woman riding her bicycle at a fair clip while forcing her leashed dog to run along beside her!  This poor animal was being run in the heat of the afternoon and had no recourse but to keep up with its owner’s fast-moving bicycle.

At least she had the benefit of a slight breeze perched atop her saddle. Rover unfortunately, was in obvious distress with his tongue dangling distressingly from the side of its mouth.

Pet-owners who run their dogs from bicycles need to give their heads a shake. Such a practice is a lazy person’s alternative to responsible dog care.

Dogs love to walk. They love that stop-and-go pace that allows them to sniff and commune with their outside environment. Dogs on a walk have an opportunity to let their owners know when they’re too tired or hot; they can simply stop or sit or lie down in cool grass.

Dogs being run from bicycles are tethered to a merciless machine that forces them to keep up an unreasonable pace under sometimes impossible circumstances. A human being in a similar situation would rightly be considered a victim of abuse. Why would it be considered differently for a dog?

By coincidence, on that same Friday afternoon, a volunteer from the Sarnia Humane Society was canvassing in front of a store I was entering.  After making a small donation I felt compelled to tell her what I had just observed and she agreed that running dogs with bicycles borders on animal cruelty.

Several years ago I learned of a tragic incident in north-end Sarnia. A young woman riding her bicycle was running her small dog to Murphy beach on an extremely hot afternoon. She was traumatized (and so were the bystanders) when her beloved pet collapsed and died as soon as they reached the sand.

Empathy and common sense can go a long way in deciding how best to exercise our furry friends.

Sheila Kozmin is a former high school English teacher pursuing a second career as a copy editor with her small business “Edit on Demand.”