OUR OPINION: Leash laws need stronger enforcement
Maybe the city already has seen the need and decided to step up enforcement. If that's the case, great. But if it's not, then Grand Forks authorities should note the growing number of complaints about unleashed dogs, and crack down. When no one s...
Maybe the city already has seen the need and decided to step up enforcement.
If that's the case, great.
But if it's not, then Grand Forks authorities should note the growing number of complaints about unleashed dogs, and crack down.
When no one seems to be enforcing the law, more dog owners take advantage; and that seems to be what's happening here.
If it is, then the city should act first to remind residents of the law and then to more vigorously enforce it.
Because as a recent Herald story noted, "Grand Forks requires owners to leash their dogs at all times when in public, with the exception of dog parks."
And the law is the law.
"Some Grand Forks dog owners say too many people are ignoring city leash laws, causing their pets to be attacked by loose dogs in area green spaces," the story reported ("Dog attacks worry local owners," Page A1, June 28).
Note that it's not just bicyclists and pedestrians who are complaining, although concerns from those groups have been noted, too.
(For a parent of a small child, an unleashed dog is a potentially life-threatening menace. And for senior citizens, many of whom have uncertain balance, the fall that results from even a friendly dog's bump can result in a broken arm or hip.)
It's also responsible owners who keep their dogs on leash but feel the same fear at the approach of an unleashed dog. And with good reason: "The dog jumped up and locked its jaws around my Chihuahua and pulled her out of my arms," a Herald reader related in a letter-to-the-editor in May.
"I wrestled with the dog on the sidewalk, trying to force its mouth open to release her. I was bit, flung around and scratched. The dog finally released my Chihuahua, turned, grabbed my poodle in its jaws and ran. ..."
Here's a more recent example, this one from an email from last week:
"Last Sunday evening when I rode the entire circuit of the Greenway, about 2/3 of the dogs I observed were unleashed. ...
"About a third had red collars (presumably electronic) and were 'under control.' But tell that to a young woman I saw chased by a dog wearing a red collar as she Rollerbladed near the North End bridge."
Speaking of electronic collars, "I've been chased by dogs wearing them with their owners running behind screaming commands and pushing buttons," the emailer notes.
Clearly, the pendulum has swung too far in one direction. And it's up to the city to pull it back.
Now, a quick note to owners who themselves don't like being -- well, on such a short leash:
In any modern city, a leash law of some kind is an absolute necessity. But some laws offer more freedom than others. In particular, the laws in New York City specify times (late-night and early-morning hours) and park places (never in playgrounds, ballfields and other heavily trafficked areas) where dogs are permitted off-leash.
Should Grand Forks do the same? That's for the City Council to decide. But until then, the law is the law: When in public and outside of dog parks, "Grand Forks requires owners to leash their dogs at all times."