Toddler Runs Up to a Woman's Service Dog, Owner Tells Parents Child Should Be Leashed

Jamie Lerner - Author

Nov. 28 2023, Published 10:19 a.m. ET

Everyone has different ideas on how to raise children and how to care for pets, but when those two ideas conflict, a social media war has the potential to break out. Twitter user Lynne Schmidt aka @AbortionChat shared a story about how a toddler ran up to her service dog, Zoë.

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Lynne blocked the toddler from her dog as a way to protect them both, but people on the platform had some strong opinions. While some supported Lynne’s efforts and chastised the toddler’s parents, others went as far as to say that her service dog should be put down if she has the potential to be dangerous.

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A toddler ran up to Lynne’s service dog without her permission.

Some might say that certain boundaries are a new generational trend, but others could argue that they’re also cultural. In the U.S., it’s very normal to go up to people’s dogs and pet them, sometimes without the owner’s permission. However, in some other countries, such as Spain or Germany, it’s very rare to pet a dog without permission. So, Lynne’s story might be relatable to people from those countries.

Even still, everyone has a right to set boundaries, which is exactly what Lynne did. She told the story on her Twitter: “Small child runs up to Zoë. I body block and say, ‘Maybe we don’t run up to dogs we don’t know.’ / The parent: She’s three. / Me: If she isn’t on voice recall, maybe she should be leashed?”

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Before we dive into both sides of the argument, it’s important to note that none of us were actually there to catch the interaction. We don’t know what Zoë has been through and how she reacts to children. We also don’t know how aggressive or curious the toddler was or how close the child’s parents were.

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Lynne's video received a mixed response online.

Many people have been supportive of Lynne, chastising the parents for not keeping a closer eye on their toddler. In fact, someone even said that they were a leashed kid, which is probably why they’re “still around.” Some might find leashing children offensive and “dehumanizing” to kids, but there are plenty of kids who grew up on leashes that are perfectly fine! It just makes it easier and safer for parents who might be distracted.

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Another user pointed out that the parents’ response of saying, “She’s three,” is “not an argument a frightened dog will acknowledge.” Every dog reacts differently to different people — we’ve all heard of dogs who cower at men or at people who are a different race or gender from their owner. Some dogs don’t deal well with kids, so in that situation, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

However, plenty of people were outraged at Lynne’s response. Perhaps her username of “Abortion Chat” set them off ahead of time, but they used this instance as an example of how “non-parents need to understand that hating kids isn’t a personality.” No one said it was Lynne’s whole personality! She doesn’t even seem to hate kids; she just doesn’t want one herself, which is totally fine.

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So often, child-free people hear from the types of people who are criticizing Lynne that we have no idea how to treat children because they aren't parents themselves. Or that they have no idea what it’s like to be a parent, so their behavior is excusable. But if parents don’t know how to parent their children, then Lynne is completely right!

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If 3-year-old toddlers aren’t taught proper boundaries or how to listen to their parents, then those parents shouldn’t put the onus of parenting onto a stranger with a service dog.

But that didn’t stop many people from telling Lynne that she’s “evil” and a “psychopath,” or that she shouldn’t bring Zoë out if she can’t behave around kids.

Perhaps if the world was a little nicer and respectful of boundaries, this interaction wouldn’t have happened in the first place.

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