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Horse owners raise concerns over off-leash dogs in Salinas Riverbed

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Posted at 6:07 PM, Apr 08, 2022

Some people who ride their horses in the Salinas Riverbed from Atascadero to Templeton say they’re concerned with the number of off-leash dogs along the trail.

It’s a popular spot for horseback riding, exercise, and some even call it home.

Valerie Stern of Templeton rides the trail with her horse, Mack, three to four times a week.

But when they were leaving the trail on Sunday, and going up a steep hill, they were caught off guard by what happened next.

“I was going up that steep hill pretty fast when I was attacked by six dogs that came from under the bridge and bit my horse's back legs,” Stern explained.

She says Mack threw her on the ground, not far from a rock, and she landed on her head, blacking out.

“As a taxpaying citizen, a productive member of society, I feel I should have no problem going to a park without getting assaulted by six dogs,” she said.

Stern, who is a dog owner herself, says she wants the owner or owners of the dogs to be held accountable by being responsible and keeping them on a leash.

“Dogs that are not under control - I don't know if they're licensed, I don't know if they're sick, have rabies... I don't know anything and that's what I want,” Stern said. “I don't mind homeless people living under the bridge as long as I can go on with my life safely, as long as my children can go trail riding in the riverbed and I know they're safe.”

She's not alone.

KSBY News spoke with another horse rider who says she’s also had dogs chase her horse in the riverbed many times, but she wished to remain anonymous in case of retaliation.

“I want the riverbed to be safe for everyone,” she said. “They come up on my horse and I turn around and face them and I call to them to stop and if they keep coming, I pull out my pepper spray and I pepper spray these dogs.”

The trail runs through Atascadero and Templeton so Stern says she’s still trying to track down the right authority to ensure the dogs are put on a leash and that everyone has safe access to the trail.

“You cannot let your dogs run wild,” Stern said.

Animal Services told us that depending on the circumstances, fines for leash law citations range from $50 to $250.

Officials say it's important to notify Animal Services or law enforcement.

Once an incident is reported to Animal Services, an officer is assigned to the case and the animal that’s bitten someone is placed under a rabies quarantine for 10 days.

Stern says she reached out to Animal Services about the incident and plans to address the city council at the next meeting regarding the issue of off-leash dogs.