Thursday, June 7, 2007

Dog Leash Bylaw Sees More Bite

The followng is from an article in from the Guelph Tribune of Ontario, Canada. Will logic ever prevail in NYC? Why has city officials conveniently forgotten about the recent past?

Doug Hallett, Guelph
(Jun 5, 2007)

For the first time ever, the city is using its parking bylaw enforcement officers to go after violators of the city's dog leash regulations this month.

Enforcement of the city's rules on leashing dogs, normally handled by the Guelph Humane Society, are being stepped up in a multi-pronged response to four reported incidents in recent weeks of dogs and people being attacked by dogs in the city.

"It's primarily an awareness campaign to make people aware of the incidents and try to encourage compliance," said Bob Chapman, the city's acting director of operations.

"It is mainly to patrol areas where dogs are supposed to be on leash and, if they are off leash, get them back on the leash," he said in an interview Monday.

In each of four recent incidents of dog bites or dog attacks on other dogs or people, the offending dog was off leash on a park trail or other public area where dogs are required to be on leash at all times, says a new report by city staff.

As well, a few complaints have been received about the city's leash-free zones, their location and lack of enforcement there, the report says.

For a few weeks this month, the city will deploy a part-time parking bylaw enforcement officer to patrol for off-leash dogs during mornings and evenings.

Two other parking enforcement officers will also assist in this effort as time permits, Chapman said.

With the recent incidents of dog attacks, he said, the city wanted enforcement of the leash law to be "stepped up" with "more presence in the parks," he said.

It's the first time the city has ever used its bylaw enforcement officers in this way, Chapman said.

Bylaw enforcement officers cannot force a person whose dog is off leash to identify himself or herself, but the officers could call for police backup "if worse comes to worse," he said, such as if they see a dog "harassing people."

In 1999, city council passed a new leash law that established eight leash-free zones where people can let their dogs off the leash and exercise them freely. As well, dogs are permitted off leash on unoccupied sports fields during specific times.

While in these designated areas, the dog must still remain under control and close to its handler, must respond to voice commands and cannot approach within one metre of other animals and people, the staff report says. When not in the leash-free zones, dogs are supposed to be on a leash at all times and under control of the handler.

As well as having the parking bylaw officers do patrols for the next three or four weeks, the city is taking other steps in response to the recent reported dog attacks. These include more public information, including in the city's advertising pages in the Tribune last Friday.

As well, signs are being developed for all leash-free zones, specifying the boundaries of the zones and the responsibilities of dog handlers, the report says.

A plan will also be developed this year to have new signs indicating that "all dogs must be leashed at all times" posted at entrances to city parks and trails.

The city will also research a long-term strategy this year "to ensure safer parklands and trails and to ensure more responsible dog ownership and handling," the report says.