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Washington County to discuss leash law

May 07, 2012|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY — A "leash law" for dogs could be up for consideration in Washington County.

Assistant County Attorney Kirk C. Downey said he plans to ask the Board of County Commissioners Tuesday for approval to schedule a public hearing on potential revisions to the county’s animal-control ordinance, including the addition of a leash law.

The change would require dogs to be restrained by a leash when off the property of their owners, except under certain circumstances.

The exceptions would include dogs on another property with the permission of the property owner or lessee, dogs being used for training, hunting, rescue, law enforcement or driving herds, and dogs accompanied by a person on horseback.

Currently, the animal-control ordinance requires dogs off the owner’s premises to be under the control of the owner or another responsible person capable of physically restraining them, but stops short of requiring leashes.

Paul Miller, executive director of the Humane Society of Washington County, and Ronald Leggett, president of the Washington County Farm Bureau, have advocated in favor of a leash law.

Leggett said Monday he was pleased to hear the idea might finally be getting some serious consideration. He said he has advocated for a leash law since the 1970s, when he had a dairy farm and his cows were attacked by dogs whose owners allowed them to run loose.

“We’ve got enough rural community around these cities that people need to be more responsible, and I think the leash law will bring to light some of those responsibilities,” he said.

Downey said he suggested considering the idea now because there are a few other changes that animal-control officials have asked the county to consider to fine-tune the last round of revisions, adopted in October 2010.

“Since we’re making some of those other changes, that gives us the opportunity to talk about that leash law as well,” he said.

He stressed in an agenda report that the leash law is “included solely for the purpose of soliciting public input” before consideration by the commissioners, and its inclusion in the draft “should not be interpreted to reflect the preferences of the commissioners.”

Other notable proposed changes in the draft include defining “excessive noise” and modifying the definitions of “vicious and dangerous” and “potentially vicious and dangerous” dogs to incorporate attacks on farm animals.

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