Monday, July 20, 2009

Why Doesn't Virginia Have Leash Laws?

Doesn't Virginia have leash laws? According to DogBiteLegalCenter.com, the Commonwealth doesn't have leash laws. Individual areas have their own.

Why doesn't Virginia have it's own statewide leash laws???

Arlington, VA's leash laws are pretty cut and dried:
"When off their owner's property, all dogs in Arlington must be leashed and under control of the owner or another responsible person. The only exception to this law is if the dog is in a county-sanctioned, off-lead dog exercise area.


§ 2-6. Leashing dogs:
All dogs shall be kept secured by a leash or lead, and under the control of the owner or other responsible person, or within the real property limits of its owners. A waiver to this requirement for a specific time and place may be obtained from the animal warden's office for such activities as off-lead training, obedience matches and trials, when the dog has a skin condition which would be exacerbated by the wearing of a collar, and other activities which promote animal control. Nothing in this section of the County Code nor in any other section shall be deemed to make unlawful the exercising of dogs not upon a leash in areas of the county specifically designated for such exercising."

Even Rocky Mount, VA is considering leash laws. "Rocky Mount Town Councilman John Lester has proposed that the town look into the possibility of adopting a dog leash law," reported Joel Turner.

As a dog owner in Hampton Roads, I'd support leash laws. There are leash laws in area parks and on the beaches, but I'm talking about city-wide laws.

I'm tired of walking my dog and getting bum rushed by other dogs, out running loose, clearly not in their owners' control (either physically or vocally). If I can control my own dog, it's safer for him, and for other people and dogs in my neighborhood. My dog isn't dangerous, but even I don't know how he might react if provoked by another dog. Leash laws, if followed correctly, make environments safer for people and their animals.

And it looks like I'm not the only one in the area that would support local leash laws. In February 2009, someone wrote in for the Waggin' Tails blog why leashes are good ideas. "I live in a neighborhood where some people think that it’s okay to just let their dog out the door to roam. They say their dog will come back when it’s ready. They also think they don’t need a leash when walking with their dog."

I walk my dog on a leash and I keep him under my control when he's in our fenced in front yard. Shoot, I even clean up after him when we walk.

So what's my problem with people who don't leash their dogs? It happened again tonight. My leashed dog and I are walking home when we get rushed by an aggressive dog of some kind. She's barking and growling, and circling my dog, like she's trying to get behind him. She definitely wasn't in a butt sniffing kind of mood...the dog body language going on here wasn't good.

And my problem is that this has happened a couple of times before, because the owners sit on their front porch at night with their dog, who "normally listens" even though she won't come back to them when she's called. She's clearly not under their control. This dog won't even let her owners grab her when she's loose. They have to chase her home.

I'll admit that tonight, it finally pushed me too much. I started cussing out that dog and didn't really accept the owner's apologies with any kind of grace. My dog is well behaved and he's not a fighter. I'm sick of having to put up with that. As of tonight, I think we're going to have to cut that block out of our walks. And that's not fair to my dog so we'll have to find a new block to add to our route to make up for it.

How safe is this? If I let my large breed, non-aggressive, neutered dog run around like that, you know I'd catch hell from people in the neighborhood. I think leash laws would make us all safer dog owners. For those of us who use leashes already, our lives wouldn't change.

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