A woman has sparked a huge debate online after demanding that kids should be 'leashed' to stop them running up to random dogs.
Lynne Schmidt boldly suggested that the roles should be reversed after a three-year-old got up close and personal with her pooch Zoë.
She was left furious following the toddler's encounter with her service dog at a sporting goods store in Michigan, US.
Alongside a snap of Zoë wearing a lead which was attached to a harness, Schmidt wrote: "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?'"
Schmidt's controversial chat with the child's parents became a fiery topic of discussion online, as people were left divided about her response to the situation - and her suggested course of action.
Despite being slammed by many for her lack of tact when telling the toddler she was barking up the wrong tree, she has doubled down on her response and said she has 'literally laughed' at people accusing her of being anti-children.
She told NBC: "Here’s the thing. All I know is that she clearly was not taught how to approach a dog, and that is enough for me to assume that though she was three years old, she was a threat to my dog.
"I have said multiple times since the tweet that my dog was not the threat - the child was, which is why I blocked them from having access.
"I enjoy hanging out with kids and teaching them when appropriate. But if a child is way out of line and puts any of my animals at risk, my priority is to my animals’ safety first and foremost."
The animal lover said she had seen 'far too many close calls with children who weren't contained in some way' and explained that Zoë is a service dog who she had rescued.
Some people agreed, pointing out that parents should keep control of their children, especially around animals.
One said: "'How about 'thank you for protecting my child and doing my job for me?' Jeez."
Another wrote: "Honestly, I think that’s a great suggestion! I was a leashed kid and that’s probably a major reason why I’m still around."
But she was still in the doghouse with a host of other people, who said her comment was 'very rude' and suggested that the responsibility for keeping the situation safe falls on the dog owner.
One read: "If your dog's a safety risk, don't take them out."
A second said: "You couldn’t have found a kinder way to respond? It was a teachable moment that you made ugly."
An animal expert has since chimed in on the debate in a bid to put the social media storm to bed.
Dog trainer Brett Bailey told the New York Post: "The thing is, we can’t control a child. I can’t control anybody, but I can control my dog."
However, he believes it is 'important for people to understand that we shouldn’t approach dogs without consent'.
Bailey suggested pet owners should carry around a 'positive interrupter', such as a treat or a toy, to distract their dog if they are approached by a stranger.
Encouraging people to avoid petting your dogs face and directing them to stroke their back's instead was another tip.
Lastly, he recommended creating distance between your pet and a person by standing in front of your canine, which is also known as 'body blocking.'Featured Image Credit: X/AbortionChat