Editorial: Leash your dogs

People are roaming free in JP’s wealth of parkland with the arrival of spring. Unfortunately, so are off-leash pet dogs.

Having a dog off-leash on the street or in a park is illegal. It’s illegal because it’s irresponsible, rude and dangerous.

Dogs are not miniature people. They are animals that can and will bite. Uncontrolled, they dig up flowerbeds. They go to the bathroom on paths, ball fields and graves. They terrorize wildlife. They run into the road. They bark and howl. They have a penchant for forcing their attentions on unwilling people.

The great majority of JP dog-owners understand this and leash their pets. These responsible people are a community asset. Dog-walkers may be the most regular visitors to parks and streets, helping to keep them safe. And they provide properly controlled exposure to the joy of pet animals for those of us who enjoy interacting with them.

But it only takes one uncontrolled animal to ruin a public space, and significant numbers of JP dog-owners ignore the leash law, including in parks where it is prominently posted. The City lacks the resources and, apparently, the will to enforce the leash law.

Peer pressure is lacking, likely because of the hostile sense of entitlement one can face from such dog-owners. But we have found that most people want to be responsible when the law is pointed out.

We support an increase in fenced-in, off-leash dog runs in city parks. It would mitigate the off-leash dog problem and would improve the quality of life for animals that like to socialize with their fellows and roam around with some freedom.

We also support an increase in leash-law enforcement as a basic quality-of-life measure and an obvious resource for City coffers. Uncontrolled animals should be treated at least as seriously as graffiti vandalism.

In the meantime, residents should speak up when they see an off-leash dog. Fellow dog-owners are the very best source of peer pressure. Most of them are setting a great example and should point that out to their less responsible brethren.

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