SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Pets, Children, Speeders on NPH
By Suzan Thompson


October 09, 2008
Thursday PM

The writers of recent letters addressing the pet, child, traffic problems on North Point Higgins all make excellent points. Ms. Bailey and Ms. O'Bryan are absolutely correct that there are far too many dogs allowed to run at large on this busy road. Ms. Shull is also correct when she says that speeding drivers are a big problem and I agree with her suggestion that if residents consistently call to report speeders when they see them, there may be some stepped-up enforcement. The State Troopers have always been willing to respond quickly to reports of reckless driving whenever I have had to call them. As far as I'm concerned, they can park in my driveway all day long and write tickets until they run out of ink. If it checks the tendency of drivers to drive 42 in a 25 mph zone because they're never sure if there's a Trooper up ahead, that's great.

However, I do disagree with the comment that any driver doing the 25 mph speed limit or under would have ample time to stop in the event that a dog or child darted out in front of the car. Children standing quietly by the side of the road one minute can be out in front of a moving vehicle in just a few steps. A small child can be seriously injured or killed in a 10 mph collision with any automobile, let alone the large commercial vehicles which regularly use North Point Higgins. Drivers concerned about the movements of children up ahead of them on the road may not see another child dart out from the side and fall near the rear wheels. Any resident of NPH can tell you that before and after school and in dry weather, the road is full of groups of schoolchildren pushing each other on and off the sidewalks, kids riding their bicycles and tricycles straight down the center line, and can also attest that there are plenty of children as young as three and four years of age who are allowed to play unattended on the edge of the road. Child control is just as much a concern to me as is pet control.

Which brings me to my final point: yesterday when I drove home at two p.m. there were no children out and about, but I counted six dogs in the right-hand side of the road and one in the left-hand side between Rigging Lane and Beacon Hill Lane. These are the same dogs we always see in the road out here; apparently when the leash laws went into effect they were grandfathered in, as they spend their days playing largely unmolested in the same spots. I have come to realize that no amount of hand-wringing on the part of people concerned for the dogs is going to matter in the slightest. The owners already know that it is dangerous for their dogs to be out on the roadway. They just do not care. To many pet owners, dogs are expendable and easily replaceable, and any dog killed in a collision with a vehicle can be replaced with a cute new puppy, and the cycle starts over again. I believe that only a hefty fine or a trip to civil court with a driver who claims damages for emotional trauma because he or she cannot get rid of the mental picture of a screaming bloody dog dying in the road is going to have any effect on these owners. Losing their dog may be no big deal, but a financial wallop might get their attention. When you see these dogs in the road, call Animal Control at 225-2880, describe the dog, tell them the dog is going to cause an accident, and ask them to come and pick it up.

It is a child-control issue, a pet-control issue, and a speed-control issue, and I am sure that we would all agree that every parent, pet owner, and driver can commit to making a difference.

Suzan Thompson
Ketchikan, AK

About: "Resident of North Point Higgins "

Received October 07, 2008 - Published October 09, 2008


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