Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Citizens disagree about proposed dog-leash law

By Justin Wright
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The dog days of summer are months away, but there was a little heat over dogs at Monday night’s Midway City Council meeting.

The council heard first reading of an ordinance that would require dogs to be on a leash. Community members disagreed about the proposed law.

George Baxter, who is against the ordinance, addressed the council during the citizens’ comments period at the start of the meeting. “Many dog owners will lose the strong bond they have built with their dogs by walking them off a leash,” he said, adding that "contrary to popular belief," dogs can be better controlled and monitored off leash.

Libby Warfield, who was in the audience but did not address the council, spoke up about it to Midway Messenger reporters. “I have been attacked by a dog in the past and think that all dogs should be on a leash because you never know what they are going to do,” she said in an interview.

Warfield, who is running for the council in the November election, went on to say that she has had dogs all of her life and loves the animals, but thinks the city needs the ordinance, and not just for citizens’ safety. She said she had seen many accidents that could have been avoided in instances where dogs ran out in front of vehicles. “I, myself have lost dogs due to this issue and don’t want to see it happen to anyone else’s pet,” she said, “and I feel that the leash law would achieve that.”

Woodford County Animal Control Officer Susan Jones asked for the ordinance because she had been called to Midway with complaints of dogs running at large countless times, Mayor Tom Bozarth said in an interview.

The ordinance says that unleashed dogs are not permitted to run at large and any dog in the city, licensed or unlicensed, is to be kept confined behind a fence or kept on a restraint not less than 10 feet in length and either on a swivel designed to prevent choking or strangling itself, or on a chain run and attached to either a collar or harness.

The ordinance also says, “Any dog found off the premises of the owner or keeper and running at large within the city while not under the constraint of a leash and under control of the owner or keeper and or that is not wearing identifying tags shall be taken up by the animal control officer and held in the county animal control shelter for up to five days. If the owner fails to claim the dog within this time, the animal will thereby be disposed of in a humane manner by the county animal shelter.”

Anyone whose dog is caught violating these rules will be subject to a fine of no less than $25 but no more than $250 for each offense.

With the ordinance expected to get second reading and possibly passage May 7, the people of Midway will have to wait and see what the future holds for the outcome and if every dog will indeed have his day or be confined to a leash in public places.

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