Couple raises awareness of off-leash dogs after bitten on Steiner trails 

Keri and James Bryan are raising awareness about off-leash dogs on the trails in Steiner Ranch after James was bitten by a dog recently.

James Bryan shows the two punctures on his leg after he was bitten by a dog.

Four Points News

After being bitten by a dog on the trails in Steiner Ranch, one local couple is raising awareness about how unleashed dogs on the trails in the community have created a dangerous environment. 

James and Keri Bryan adopted a 5-year-old dog from the Austin Animal Center just after Thanksgiving. 

“My husband had our new dog on the trails on December 5 around noon, on a leash with a prong collar. We can easily control our 50-pound dog,” Keri said. “An off-leash Boxer mix came running up to James and our dog, a large scuffle occurred, and James was bitten.”

She shared that the owner was not immediately in sight and came up shortly after with earbuds in. He did not hear the initial scuffle.

James had two puncture wounds from the incident, one hit an artery. He went to an urgent care clinic to get a tetanus shot, antibiotics and one stitch. 

Although they know the name of the owner of the other dog, they are not sharing that. James said that in the scuffle, he could not be certain which dog bit him because it happened so fast. 

The couple is more concerned that the HOA rules are not being followed, that unleashed dogs are prohibited in Steiner Ranch.

“I am more mad at the HOA because of the known problem and lack of enforcement,” Keri said. “There are no signs on the trails signifying the leash rule. There is no enforcement nor plans for enforcement even though there are rules for leashes.”

Keri thinks the HOA should be held more accountable.  “What if a child or teenager had been walking our dog?  It could have been worse.”

The couple had not frequented the trails prior to getting their new dog. When walking on the trails between River Heights Overlook and Summer Vista on December 4, Keri noticed a lot of off-leash dogs. “I noticed none of the other dogs, (five total) except for ours, were leashed,” she said. 

“At one point, a white pit bull and black Lab trotted up to us and began closely sniffing my dog. Their owner was far behind them and had earbuds in, and didn’t seem to notice me telling him to get his dogs,” Keri shared. “My new dog was in the shelter for two months, and is very afraid of other dogs. It isn’t fair for me to be the only person with a dog on the leash in the greenbelt.” 

The Bryans contacted the Steiner HOA on December 5 to share about the dog bites that happened on the trails. Angela Thielemans, general manager with Steiner Ranch Master Association, shared a followup email that same day.

“Unless you know who the offenders are, there, unfortunately, isn’t much I can do. However, I can send a reminder out to folks that unleashed dogs are prohibited in Steiner Ranch. I’m sure my message will go unheeded; there are just some folks who believe the rules don’t apply to them, which is most frustrating to those who do follow the rules,” Thielemans stated in her email. Such reports can be kept anonymous, she assured.

Thielemans also replied via email to the Bryans that “we have no way of patrolling trails, and unless someone can identify the owner of the unleashed dog, I cannot send out a violation notice, which is all I can do. I do suggest you contact Travis County Animal Control to report this.” 

Keri did contact the Austin Police Department which advised her to carry not just pepper spray, but bear spray.

“I will be carrying some sort of spray from now on, and I will use it if approached by an off-leash dog,” Keri said. “APD said that any time I am approached by an off-leash dog, it’s reasonable to use pepper or bear spray to protect myself.”