Columbus discusses leash laws
Dog owners in Columbus may soon face changes to leash requirements in city parks.
Some city council members are ready to move ahead with a proposed dog leash law now that the city has created various dog parks to provide places for dogs to run off-leash. The council recently held a public meeting to give an update on the proposed legislation.
The law would require dog owners to keep dogs on a leash on city streets and on public ground, such as parks.
President Pro Tem Kevin Boyce said the legislation originated in 2004, when they started to get complaints about dogs that weren’t under control.
He said there were over 1,000 complaints about animal bites alone in 2003.
They drafted legislation to deal with the issue, but decided to wait to implement it until there were viable alternatives like dog parks.
“Our goal was to be reasonable,” he said. Based on the development of dog parks since then, he recommended that the legislation be considered by the council.
Council Member Priscilla Tyson agreed. She said it’s an issue that effects all citizens, pet-owners or not, and that everyone needs to be concerned with the safety of others.
“Our parks are for people as well as pets,” she said.
Assistant Parks Director Mark Young said the most frequent concerns in calls he gets are about dogs. Columbus’ long-standing practice of allowing pets in parks to run free is not common in other large cities, he said, that he is aware of.
Another concern beyond safety is the effect dogs are having on the wildlife in parks.
Elayna Grody, natural resources manager for Columbus parks, said dogs sometimes kill or injure wildlife. Even if they only chase the animals, she said, the effect that it has on the wildlife can make it harder for them to survive. In addition, dogs leave behind a scent that disturbs the animals. They also can have a significant negative impact on bird populations, she said.
The various dog parks around the city, according to Young, average several acres in size. He said they are also looking at developing off-leash areas in parks like Schiller Park in German Village and Goodale Park north of downtown, which are used by many pet owners.
Most of the pet owners at the public meeting expressed support for the law, but many wanted exceptions.
One, Greg Maynard, recognized that in many cases, off-leash dogs are causing serious problems but said he would be sad to see responsible pet-owners lose their privileges.
“I would like to see some common-sense exemptions,” he said.
He suggested that owners be able to pay for obedience training and get a colored tag that would allow them to have their dogs off-leash.