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The dangers of no leash
Stout, 13, shown with owner Cindy Mcnett in front of her Monroe home, nearly lost his life in an attack by an off-leash dog in October 2015. The dachshund has now made a full recovery. To order either of these photos, click here. (Times photos: Marissa Weiher)
MONROE - Stout, a cheerful 13-year-old dachshund, is covered in scars. Fur has begun to obscure them, but they are unmistakably there.

Stout received the scars when he was attacked by a larger dog while on a walk on 14th Avenue in Monroe on Oct. 20, 2015. Stout nearly died at several points during his recovery.

Now fully recovered, Stout shows no signs of being afraid of the outdoors or larger dogs, said Cindy Mcnett, Stout's owner. But while the attacking animal was never found, the damage it inflicted took two months to recover from.

Dogs left off leashes are a growing concern for animal owners in Green County, an area veterinarian warns. Dogs allowed to roam can attack other pets or be attacked themselves by wild animals.

Even if a roaming dog isn't involved in a fight with another animal, they can still be injured or killed by running into traffic without warning, said Emily Dahlgran, veterinarian at the Brodhead Veterinary Medical Center.

"A lot of people don't walk their dogs anymore because of these roaming dogs, so now more dogs are becoming unhealthy," Dahlgran said.

Dahlgran said the Brodhead clinic has seen an increase in injuries from roaming dogs over the past few years - mostly minor bite wounds, but a few like Stout's that leave dogs severely injured or killed.

In August of 2015, for example, two pit bulls brutally killed Buddy, a small dog being walked by his owners on a Monroe street. The dogs were untethered and the gate to their yard was left open.

Allowing a dog to run at large incurs a penalty of at least $25 for the first offense and at least $50 for subsequent offenses. However, police have to catch the roaming dog and ascertain who the owner is before the fine can be levied.

The Green County Sheriff's Office reported 440 cases of dogs at large or missing in 2015.

"We encourage people to always maintain control of their dogs," said Chief Deputy Tom Moczynski.

Often, however, owners of roaming dogs are only issued verbal or written warnings upon the return of their pets.

Dahlgran said she believes people allow dogs to roam "at least partially out of laziness" or because they believe their pets pose no threat to anyone or anything.

"They always say, "Oh, he's such a good dog,'" Dahlgran said, adding that people don't understand the consequences of letting their animals do as they please.

Owners of smaller dogs like Stout and Buddy, however, are much more aware of the consequences, Dahlgran said.