Two Off-Leash Dogs Attack On-Leash Dog at Mills Reservation

Two Off-Leash Dogs Attack On-Leash Dog at Mills ReservationTruffle took a walk with his family — on leash — at Mills Reservation on Friday only to be attacked by two off-leash dogs. Truffle’s family shared the following on Montclair Watercooler and want to get the word out to others about the dangers of dogs going off leash:

On Friday afternoon, my husband and I took our nine year old, her friend and our dog for a walk at Mills Reservation. Our dog, Truffle, is almost 2 years old and he’s a bundle of fun. We all love him dearly. It was our first time with him at the reservation. Truffle was on-leash, frolicking with my daughter and her friend, and having a merry time until two off-leash dogs set upon him. One of them attacked Truffle and after what seemed like an eternity, but was likely only a minute or two, the owners caught up to the two dogs and managed to bring them under control. The girls were terrified, crying and screaming. I was screaming. My husband helplessly tried to extricate our dog from harm. Truffle was very scared, but he seemed otherwise ok after we quickly looked him over. We high-tailed it back to our car and it was only once we were on the way home that we realized he was bleeding. I took him to the animal hospital and sure enough, he had two puncture wounds, which required several stitches. Fortunately, Truffle is going to be fine. We humans, however, will not soon forget the horrifying vision of our beloved dog being attacked.

It is AGAINST THE LAW to allow your dogs to run off-leash in the reservation or any other county park, except in designated areas (Brookdale has a dog run for a reason). You may think your dog is the best-behaved dog on the planet. But they are animals and if they’re off-leash they cannot be controlled. It is our responsibility as dog owners to keep our dogs from inflicting harm on other dogs or people. I am grateful our dog is ok and that the girls were not hurt. But I will never return to Mills Reservation again.

In my haste to get the dog and the girls out of harm’s way, I did not get the owners’ contact information, nor did I call the sheriff’s office. I should have. I did, however, contact the Essex County Parks Department, Joe Vincenzo’s office and the Sheriff’s office this morning to let them know what happened. I’ve asked that they post better signage throughout the park that indicate the fine amounts for off-leash dogs and the sheriff’s phone number, so people can immediately call if they witness an incident or are victims themselves, or if they see dogs off-leash.

Please think twice before you let your dogs run off-leash in public parks. Our furry friends deserve better.

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  1. That’s terrible and I’m sorry you all had to go through that. I saw a dog off the leash in Brookdale park on the trails yesterday. I was wondering if it is the law that they have to be on leash in a public park. If they do, I will not hesitate to tell the owner to leash their dog next time!

  2. I see dogs off leashes in all the parks in Montclair. I’m most frequently in Anderson park and even there I regularly see dogs without leashes. It’s the typical kind of minor, anti-social offense – like ignoring pedestrians in a cross walk – that is so just routinely ignored in our town.

    Get well soon Truffles! Adorable pup!

  3. Yesterday I was walking in the Bonsal Preserve. I came across a group of dog walkers who had all of their dogs off leash. Of course the smallest one decided to nip at my pants leg and snarl at me. The owners did the right thing, They turned their backs and pretended I wasn’t there. I’m starting to think that maybe a moratorium on dogs in the nature preserves might be a good idea !

  4. I’m guessing the petition calling for off-leash hours at Mills will not be getting much traction at this point.

    When there’s a petition calling for higher fines and stricter enforcement of leash laws in the county parks please let us know. I may sign that one.

  5. I am not a dog owner and use Mills often. I am so sorry for the incident with Truffles! However, I support the idea of establishing off-leash hours in Mills. There are many cities and towns that have established these hours and they seem to work for everyone. I think dogs come in all different sizes, shapes, and personalities and many can really benefit from the freedom of no leash and a chance to be “social”. There will always be an occasional “bad seed” (owner as well as dog) in a community but if new hours were instituted and enforced, runners and families could actually enjoy Mills with LESS of a chance of running into an aggressive animal that shouldn’t be off-leash but is, because people that want to avoid off- leash dogs would know when to use Mills.

  6. 90% of dog owners think that their dog is in the top 10% of best behaved dogs. This is the attitude that leads to things like this! Just like how all parents believe their child is above average.

  7. This happens to be one of my “pet” peeves. I was bitten several years ago, by dog that was actually leashed, but not controlled by its owner, while rollerblading in Edgemont Park. Oftentimes unleashed dogs chase me, and when I take issue with their owners I generally get nothing but attitude.

    I like dogs, and think that our parks should be available to them and responsible owners who leash, control and clean up after them. As someone pointed out, there is a facility in town that will allow dogs to run free within a specified area. If that’s what your animal requires, take them there.

    Forgetting for the moment the wisdom of my getting up on skates at all, I shouldn’t have to accommodate the illegal behavior of others in order to stay safe. I do wish code enforcement would crack down and enforce our leash laws.

  8. A step in the right direction ( for everyone ) would be for the owners of those loose dogs that went for Truffle would be to come forward to identify themselves, issue an apology and an offer to pay for any Vet bills.
    Yes. New signs should be posted in the reservation.
    It’s too bad that this has happened

    Joel – Montclair Feed

  9. Let’s compromise. Let’s do the off leash hours but have the people signing that petition pay for the upkeep and expense in building the few dog parks we already have built. I’m really tired of tossing away money for the deluded few who think they and their pets are an exception. I’m also tired of people who don’t have the space for a big dog and expect the rest of us to figure it out for them.

  10. Sorry you were bitten by a dog on a leash. Owners should licensed their pets, have them under control and pick up after them. In other words, extend more concern & courtesy for others.

    But, your indignation doesn’t work for me – rollerblading is not allowed in Edgemont Park.

  11. Frank, I don’t see any ordinances addressing in-line skates (Rollerblade is a brand). Are you saying they are a vehicle and therefor not allowed?…

    “Any wheeled conveyance, whether motor-powered, animal-drawn or self-propelled. The term shall include any trailer-in-tow of any size, kind or description. Exception is made for baby carriages and vehicles in the service of the Township parks.”

    That would apply to bicycles as well, yes?

  12. Self-propelled to me reads roller blades, bicycles, skateboards and those wheely shoes. I know I’ve been rollerblading at Edgemont too but didn’t know it wasn’t allowed.

  13. Indeed hrh, apparently many of us have been running afoul of the law for decades. Fear not though, I’ve not seen any tickets being given to the skaters, the bikers, or the kids in wheelies.

  14. The Township made an exception for bicycles with wheels 20″ or smaller. So, break out your Sting Ray and ride the wind without fear of tickets. For everyone else, we offer 90 miles of paved streets if you want to be legal. Personally, I’m fine with well-mannered bicyclists on park paths. Its the few bad apples that ruin it for everyone else.

  15. It would be nice to see a Q&A on Baristanet with the Sheriff’s Office in regard to their feelings on the topic.

  16. The Sheriff’s Office ?

    The only time I have ever seen an Essex County Sheriff in Montclair is when they drive their cruiser around the path at Anderson Park forcing everyone off the path. I’ve seen them do that a few times, but never seen them do anything else.

  17. what about un leashed dogs attacking humans.. so many times i am running in the parks and have to deal with dogs off leash.. so rude! and as far as no rollerblading in edgemont park .. gimme a break! i highly doubt that..

  18. Why so hard to believe? NYC doesn’t allow in-line skating on sidewalks. They probably allow it in the parks, but then again, they also have set hours for allowing dogs off leash, but under control.

    It’s not like dog owners are some big, single homogenous group. My experience in town is there are far and away more responsible and courteous owners and definitely are numerous cases where a minority of them are not.

    You obviously run because you find it better than just walking for your exercise. Well, dogs are the same. The only dog park is in Brookdale and technically, half of it is in Bloomfield. There are no other legal choices. So, owners can jump in the car and drive 3 miles across town to sit in a postage size pen. Give me a break. There is a middle ground. New York figured it out. Maybe we can.

  19. Of course the smallest one decided to nip at my pants leg and snarl at me. The owners did the right thing, They turned their backs and pretended I wasn’t there.


    Pack a little pepper spray, and give the cur a zap. Right in the eyes. I’m sure the pet parents would notice.

    If I still ran, I’d probably pack a piece of chain. You could send a pretty clear message with it…

  20. The dogs off leash in Anderson park are generally harmless, good natured retrievers. What I find more worrisome are the folks who have their pit bulls off leash and do so uninhibited all over the place, despite the fact that children have been attacked by these vicious attack dogs while riding bikes and playing innocently around town.

  21. People who let their dogs off leash in public areas are rude and inconsiderate. I love dogs- but I don’t want your dog jumping all over me, drooling on me, etc, especially when I don’t know its vaccination history.

  22. Wow. Just wow. Chains. Pit Bulls. Vaccination history.

    Montclair is so progressive these days. You can actually post here about using chains on a dog and not so much as an “excuse me?”

    Well, truth be told, we have never been accused us of being a overly spiritual town. Kind of selfish. Take more than we give…but hey, you have to make practical choices. Bike/Walk Montclair! The really, really important things…and running.

  23. My son almost got his face bit off by an unleashed dog when he was about 4. Has been terrified of them ever since. Leash your dogs folks, and now that I know it’s the law, I’ll be telling you to do so. If you want your dog to run around unleashed, do what my grandparents did years ago…fence your own yard so the rest of us don’t have to be bothered.

  24. Nothing wrong with whacking a dog as he/she is sinking their fangs into my shins. Non-lethal, but the dog may associate me with a person to avoid. I consider that a desirable outcome.

    If the dog drew (my) blood, I might seek to capture it and hold it for rabies testing, etc. That would undoubtedly get the notice of the pet parents.

  25. There is a middle ground to be explored. Certainly anyone who has a dog that shows the remotest propensity to attack and injure either another dog or person, for that matter, should not let the animal off of a leash. Any dog owner is responsible for their pet’s actions, on or off leash.That said, if someone hit my small harmless dog with a chain, they would severely regret it. There’s a difference between being barked at by a toy poodle and attacked by a pit bull. BTW, rabies testing involves killing the animal involved. So, while we can all agree that none of the leashed pets are rabid, and trying to “capture ” a rabid dog might not be such a good idea maybe there’s a little hyperbole here.

  26. That’s the thing deadeye, how is one to know, in that split second one has to decide, if the dog running at you at full speed is a “harmless” dog or is intending to do you damage, since they both look pretty much the same.

    Yes, “There’s a difference between being barked at by a toy poodle and attacked by a pit bull”, but dog owners should not expect that I will wait until there are teeth embedded in my leg to determine that difference. If a dog is off leash then the owner is responsible for the negative outcomes.

  27. Frank – If I bought a horse, I wouldn’t be complaining about having drive 10 miles to visit the nearest appropriate riding area.

    If people don’t want to drive three miles to visit the dog park that cost the taxpayers over $300k to build, you have a few options:

    1) Find a new home for your dog.
    2) Buy a house with a big yard and fence it in.
    3) Put your dog on a leash and run with it.

    In any of those options, I am not scared to death that a dog will bite one of my kids in their face while we are in a public park.

  28. Pete, You’re correct. I got attacked by a Rottweiler once, that I saw ihad a muzzle on. Even though it was about 75 feet away, I had zero time to react and got flattened, and I’m over 200 lbs. Thought about jumping on the hood of my car, but no time. So anyone that thinks that they’re going to do something out of a movie and deflect an attack by a large mean dog is dreaming. Really though, you’ve got aggressive breeds, and big playful dogs like labs and Goldens. If the owner can/t control their dog they simply can’t unleash it. German Shepards are incredibly smart and can be well trained, but if a cat runs by…

  29. vanb,,

    Yes, I agree. The options are not going to change and people and their dogs will adapt.

  30. One can be tolerant without tolerating intolerance, and the people who happen to have a proclivity for vicious Rottweilers and Pit bull terriers and allowing them to run unleashed in the park, down the street or in front of their residence, are clearly intolerant of both civility and safety and show a special disdain for humanity, especially the innocence and purity of the very young children being walked, pushed in carriages and carried by parents, siblings and caretakers. Being progressive does not mean one has to tolerate a compromise to one’s safety or expectation of civility as a result of some degenerates and their feral attack dogs. Don’t be intolerant under the banner of tolerance. I’m “progressive” in my talk and walk, but I object to lawlessness and stand against those who might attempt to intimidate or inflict fear on others. It is progressive to raise awareness and to attempt to raise the consciousness of one’s neighbors.

  31. “It is progressive to raise awareness and to attempt to raise the consciousness of one’s neighbors.”

    So, it’s like religion….but, the deity role is user defined?

  32. I’m not progressive. I can’t stand the term. Self defined progressives are a bunch of narcissistic dilettantes and should keep their opinions to themselves, while leaving the rest of us alone.

  33. Ha! Being intolerant under the banner of tolerance is the precise definition of today’s local progressives. Now I’m off to get my half caf, no whip, cruelty free, soy latte!

  34. “Ha! Being intolerant under the banner of tolerance is the precise definition of today’s local progressives.”

    —yes! Let’s all be like deadeye and his ilk and embrace our intolerance! Fly that confederate flag! Refuse to issue marriage licenses! Brand immigrants as rapists and murderers! By embracing our intolerance, we are just being “authentic”! What rot…

  35. I think this would be a good time to note how absolutely adorable Truffle is. Look at that face!

  36. Truffle is a cutey!! Having been chased by a “he never did this anyone” type of dogs, and seeing a “he never bites anyone” type of dog attack people and dogs at Brookdale, I know why these animals need to be on leashes.

    The idea of “off-leash” hours is dumb. Because far too many owners, as Truffle can attest, do not follow the law anyway. So why think they’d follow the “No-leash” hours?

    Any attempt at “off-leash” will turn into Mills Reservation being a NO LEASH sanctuary. And why not? These owners will tell ya: their dog never hurt anyone…… Before.

  37. Cunningham,
    Your last blathering post really shows some tolerance. My ilk?!! Would that be the normal people. You’re like the poster boy for what makes our town the butt of “progressive” satire. Clown!

  38. deadeye –

    By your “ilk” I think jcunningham meant anonymous posters that threaten others on message boards.

    If people want to hate on Montclair’s progressive vibe that’s fine with me – distracts from the real problems the town has that might lower my resale value.

  39. Joel of Montclair Feed is correct. The owner of the aggressive dog should offer to pay any vet fees.

    Deadeye is half-right when s/he wrote that rabies tests involve killing the animal, as this is only one possibliity. One can only get rabies when it is active in the animal and if this is the case, the animal will die in a few days. The alternative to killing the animal is to be in a position to watch it. If a rabies-infected animal bites when the rabies is not active (it lurks in the system for some time) the bite will not transmit rabies. The disease must be active.

    As to leashing your pooch, it is the law. I get the freedom argument, but this is a densely populated area. Want Fido to feel free? Drive out to the countryside where there are no leash laws.

  40. dead eye “Self defined progressives are a bunch of narcissistic dilettantes and should keep their opinions to themselves, while leaving the rest of us alone.”

    Are you not viewing the comment section for opinions?

  41. Since I introduced the progressive tangent here, I thought I need to respond. I do agree that the “progressive vibe” is an apt description and many of us appreciate its presence here. However, it is also common for it to be just an ethereal veil.

    I obviously strongly disagree with several posts and I don’t think they reflect the generalized values of the current progressive era in Montclair. I am not a progressive, so I can’t say with certainty. The label overall doesn’t fit me. I do pick my spots though and animals are one of these.

    I understand the off-leash opposition. Yes, a runner shouldn’t have to reverse their direction to avoid the potential threat of an off-leash dog ahead. Montclair spent $300,000 last year alone to just makeover the tennis courts, a seasonal activity benefiting a very small minority of residents, at Mountainside Park. I don’t want to, and we shouldn’t have to spend another 6 figure amount for a dog park when I obviously think there is a minimal cost alternative to at least pilot. We have a widely accepted practice of taking public space off-line for set times for the exclusive use of certain groups. But, I get it that it won’t happen.

    It is the tenor of the speech bothers me. I don’t consider off-leash dogs, under control, anti-social anymore than those who drive 35 mph on Park St. I certainly don’t blatantly label breeds as vicious, attack dogs nor owners as degenerates and their off-leash dogs feral. If people want to be progressive concerning dogs, they would adopt first, use reputable, registered breeders second. They would not lend their buying power to support the rapidly growing genetically engineered cross-breed offerings like micro teacup yorkiepoos. They certainly would not use abusive training tactics like a can of coins or strike dogs, with or without chains.

    And yes, I was provoking indignation because I was seeing the thread leaning towards the hyperbolic type.

    Lastly, Montclair has no major problems so home re-sale issues are on the owner.

  42. But Frank Rubacky, you make the mistake of believing that off-leash dogs are safe to the community (by suggesting a “pilot” program). As this posts, and several experiences here show– they are not. Dogs, even those who “have NEVER harmed a fly,” can sometimes, without warning, attack someone (or another dog).

    This is why we have leash laws in the first place, because we recognize that sometimes, even the most well-behaved dogs, MAY turn violent or cause someone to react in such a way that may cause harm.

    Finally, yours is NOT a true equivalent: tennis courts vs. dog parks. You can say the same thing about many of the town’s amenities. Or schools. Or parks in general. Just because not everyone uses it doesn’t mean it ought to be unsafe.

    We spent money on the tennis courts because they were unsafe, and unused. I believe Mills Reservation is STILL usable for folks with dogs, so long as they are on a leash. OR they can go to one of the many dog runs the County offers.

    But don’t try to play tennis without the appropriate shoes.

  43. This is fun. However, I have to mark your post as an I (incomplete) because you didn’t take your safety argument to the obvious next progression.

    PS: tennis shoes? That’s something down memory lane.

  44. I just wanted to add that it comes down to responsibilty and training. ANY dog can bite!
    At my previous location, one time this customer came in with her little shih tzu. We also knew that this particular dog had a history of nipping. Not that the owner ever really said anything. This one day one of my workers was saying hi to the dog and he nipped her hard enough to break skin. Now she is a Dr. She could have cleaned the wound up herself biut she told my employee to go up to Verona to the Immedicenter. She gave her, her card and said that she should get back to het after, inferring that she would pay the bill. On her visit, she had to fill out a report saying what happened, etc. so the young lady gave the Immedicenter the Drs. Card and said what happened. In a dog bite situation, the Police visited the Dr and asked if the shots were up to date.
    The Dr the got back to my employee with a nasty letter saying ” why did you give them my name?
    Why did you say it was my dog?” The dr then continued with ” you could have said it wad your dog that nipped you in play”
    So much for resonsibility

  45. Sorry Frank. I am pregnant. I would like to walk at Mills and not have to worry about being knocked over or bitten because people think they/their dogs are special and the laws don’t apply to them. I worked in animal rescue, am an animal lover/strict vegetarian, and am vaccinated against rabies, but not everyone is, so they shouldn’t have to go through that period of worry or expense (upwards of 8k for the immunoglobulin alone) to protect themselves – not to mention tracking down the vaccines themselves. Going to mountainside outpatient 6 times would not be fun. Silly to suggest that if you were bit you would be ho hum about the dog’s vaccination history.

  46. Congratulations on your pregnancy theprimroseplath. I’m glad you work in animal rescue and are a strict veggie. Not sure why you got vaccinated, but assume you have a fear of getting bitten. Regardless, what is your point?

    We have over 200 acres of parkland and preserves in Montclair alone, excluding Mills. You need to add Mill’s 157 acres, 24/7, because of what exactly? You actually need 360+ acres because your are pregnant? Now that you are pregnant your priorities have changed? I get that. I’m ok with that. But, don’t try to keep a foot in each world. You have clearly moved on.

  47. well gee, primrosepath, maybe you should have thought about the packs of wild dogs before you got yourself knocked up. Welcome to dystopia. A rabies shot won’t save you now.

  48. “vicious Rottweilers and Pit bull terriers” – where in the story above does it state the breed(s) of the dogs. Statistically it’s the little ones that are most vicious.

    Joe D has stated that he wants to build a Dog Park (notice it’s not a dog run” ) in every Essex county park. So far thre’s a great one in South Mountain – another really good Dog Park in Brookdale – there is a small dog park in Watsessing in Bloomfield – the Livingston Dog Park (private)

    Here’s a really good list of Dog Parks in NJ

    Hopefully Truffles recovers quickly – Mills is known far and wide as a place where dogs are offleash – sometimes we come accross dogs off leash in Eagle Rock as well- a big stick helps

  49. Sorry. I was joking about “packs of wild dogs” (Talladega Nights) and “getting yourself knocked up.” I’ve been ruined by Reddit.

  50. Seriously, there is no room for off leash dogs in Mills, for which “The stipulation for the original gift was that the land be preserved in its natural state” according to the county’s own web site.

    In other words, this is not a doggie play time area. I pay enough money to build dog parks everywhere. If someone wants to have dogs run around freely, they should build a commercial dog park somewhere suitably far from any neighbors where the dogs can go at it for a fee. It should not be up to me to subsidize this.

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