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Poll: What's the deal with all the dog laws?

dog walkersleash lawsLos Angeles parksWest Hollywood parks

Dogs 490

Finally police are cracking down on criminals! Unfortunately, the offenders in question are our furry four-legged friends, and their crime is wanting to burn some excess calories. In recent months, police at certain parks in West Hollywood have taken to ticketing residents who allow their dogs to run or fraternize with fellow canines while off-leash. Residents have responded by complaining about the lack of parks that allow dogs to cavort sans leash and what they feel is a pick-and-choose enforcement of the law.

Simply telling these residents to bring their pets to Los Angeles parks that allow dogs to roam unshackled might not be the best solution either. Frequenters of those parks are undertaking their own battles with The Man. A December law restricting the number of dogs a person may walk at one time is at the center of the dispute. The dog walking community is upset with the law, but seems undeterred by the threat of getting cited for a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. (If I had $180,000 business walking dogs, I might not be trembling, either.) Local dog owners enjoying the leash-free park find the dog walkers, who sometimes bring in dogs by the van-load, to be a nuisance. They claim the dog walkers can't keep track of all the pets they bring and many times don't clean up after them properly.

If I'm understanding this correctly, at one park local residents are being ticketed for letting a lone dog off its leash, while another allows whole packs of dogs to amble around freely? The explanation offered by city park police, by the way, is that they're hesitant to enforce the three-dog restriction before signs displaying the new rule are posted.

To recap:

  1. Don't let your dog run around free at a park that doesn't allow off-leash pets or you will be ticketed. 
  2. If you have more than three dogs you walk, its OK to ignore laws because there are no signs posted.
  3. It takes more than 6 months for the city to make signs.

Is it fair to ticket pet owners for trying to make sure their dog stays healthy?  Should they be forced to drive miles out of their way, passing park after park, just to let their dog off the leash?  Does the enforcement of the laws actually keep people safe?  Should dog walkers be allowed to continue their business without the restriction?  Is the ticketing just another way for the city to try and squeeze more revenue from its citizens?  How many signs does the city actually make a year that it takes 6 months to get one that reads:  "Three Dogs or Less Per Visitor"?   I've got a million questions, but what are your thoughts?

--Kevin Patra

Photo: Dogs enjoy the leash-free luxury of the Santa Monica Airport Park dog park. Credit: Karen Tapia-Andersen, Los Angeles Times.


Comments () | Archives (17)

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I have to say that we're pretty lucky to have so many off leash parks at all. People need to respect the law and respect other folks and their pets.
If you have too many dogs to keep track of, then you need to take them out in shifts. And just because your dog might be fantastic off leash, doesn't mean every other dog is the same!
I feel very lucky to live in such a dog friendly city, I hope it stays that way :-)


I'm from LA, but it's a pathetic place for dog owners. I now live in SF, and I can take my lab to lots of parks -- close to my house -- where he can play off-leash. Never had a problem in 10 years. Say what you want about SF cops; at least they know not to waste time on off-leash dogs. In the Valley a few years ago, I tried it in an out-of the-way neighborhood park, and it only took 5 minutes for the LAPD to hassle me. I think in LA the expectation is that everyone should have a big backyard. I love LA, but my dog doesn't!


I agree with the 3 dog walking law!

Downtown you see owners who have one dog that if they decided to bolt or attack cannot control them. And the owners seem to prefer to have their dogs on long leads..which further creates a problem when it comes to controlling your animals.

This was the scene just a few weeks ago when a woman who was walking her dog was attacked and her dog was attacked by 2 large dogs that the owner couldn't contain!

Downtown has become so crowded with dogs and their owners...some of whom clean up after their pets and some that don't.

The sidewalks are now disgusting...with dogs relieving themselves..the stench. There are no parks downtown...no grass for these animals to go to.

And with these narrow sidewalks..it makes for a frightening walk at times when you see a pitbull or large dog coming your way and you have nowhere to move to.

It would make the neighborhood much safer if when these owners are walking their dogs if they would shorten their lead and walk them on their right side..away from oncoming people. You may think your dog wouldn't hurt a fly...but your dog is a unknown to us.

janet planet

Why penalize people who love their dogs and want to give them some off-leash exercise? it makes no sense at all! Every park should have an off-leash area. Why do our public dollars pay for everything in a park, but not for a dog owners' needs? Why are we being penalized because we want health, happy, well-adjusted dogs?

It's Santa Monica's dog parks that take things too far. Santa Monica only allows SM residents to use their dog parks. All other dogs are verboten and are given tickets and fines. SM residents act like Nazi's, the minute anyone enters a SM dog park the SM residents immediately check for the special colored SM dog tag on your dog's collar. If your dog doesn't have one they will hound you out of the dog park like vigilantes. Considering the derth of dog parks in the LA area, exactly how does that make any sense to anyone?

If SM residents are allowed to use Los Angeles parks & Rec areas, then why can't LA residents use Santa Monica's dog parks?

I say ban all Santa Monica residents from using any Los Angeles city park or rec area. After all, it's only fair, that's what SM is doing to everyone else.

John Bard

The headline should read "What's the deal with all the dogs?"

Suddenly we seem to be overrun with yapping and barking hounds. What about us non-dog owners who have to put up with incessant noise and piles of poop from our furry - and sometimes hairless - friends?

Dogs and their owners should be housed in a separate section of town. Like kids and their minders, sorry, parents.


Get the dogs off the streets. These things are a menace. If I went around urinating and defecating in public I'd be in hand cuffs.


Los Angeles does not have resources for all of the people that live here.

Has anyone walked around the gentrified portion of downtown, with all those condos and all those dog owners? The sidewalks stink..and it used to be homeless related stench. They got rid of the homeless and replaced them with dog poop.

Ticket each and every one dog owner who does not pick up after the droppings.

And if you don't llike it, go and take your dog to San Francisco.

Jack Meoph

Dogs should be on leash at all times in public areas. No excuses. I have a serious problem with owners of dogs who are mindless about dogs jumping on strangers and other nuisance behavior. The owners laugh and think it's cute that their dog is playing with a stranger, but it hurts to be jumped on by a 100+ lb dog, which has happened to me. Also having a dog jump on the back of your legs while walking is just ridiculous, which has also happened to me. Keep your animals, let me repeat that, your ANIMALS, on a leash. Stop acting like these domesticated pets are part of the human species, because they aren't. And some of these animals are flat out dangerous.


Large young energetic dogs can't get enough exercise simply by walking them. From when my Lab was 6 months old until when she was four years old I needed to throw a ball or fetch toy well over 100 times to tire her out. How do you do that ON A LEASH ??? Leash laws in parks are great for people with little 10 lb dogs but the rest of us need parks that allow dogs off leash. Have some parks set up for dogs off leash. You also should be able to control your dog with commands, if you can't you have not trained your dog very well.

Mdm Mignon

Au contraire. Posts voicing lack of tolerance for "those" with "pets" AND even "children," should avail of the LOCK DOWN COMMUNITIES designed for such COMMAND and CONTROL.

There are many of the "GATED COMMUNITIES" within which hostilities "simmer" and "boil," as "cults" takeover their associations until there are MEASURES taken to "PUT DOWN DISSENT," A RIOT? One S CA community has established that record inclusive of MANDATED CASTRATION/HYSTERECTOMY of pets, not residents as yet!.

60% of American families have pets among them. Pets are statistically relevant to quality of lives for seniors as well, and those ill/disabled. Children develop a sense of responsibility in caring for their pets.

This is all about MONEY, JOB SLOTS FOR PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNIONS, nnd those UNION DUES; in ADDITION TO LICENSING FEES that go into the General Fund to support PUBLIC EMPLOYEES with no pretense of reciprocal services for our pets.. As to waste and "clean-up," that is not a mega problem when responsible owners also keep their pets safely confined and on leash .. 6 Feet maximum length!!!


How could Kevin Patra fail to include those enacted and proposed laws to MANDATE CASTRATION/HYSTERECTOMY OF ALL PETS?


Behind these draconian efforts are blatant agendas of a coalition of PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNIONS AND SO CALLED ANIMAL RIGHTS ADVOCATES to eliminate for all time, companion pets, the same "ACTIVISTS" having harassed medical researchers, and those designated as terrorists by the FBI?

Without a single Republican in support, Senator Steinberg [D-Pres Pro Tem of CA State Senate] pushed through #SB 250 to make it ILLLEGAL to own or harbor an "intact" pet; BUT delivered a PACKAGE TO PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNIONS that ALLOWS PROTECTION MONEY to be EXTORTED in the form of ANOTHER LICENSE required to "protect" pets from those "procedures," BUT only TEMPORARILY as it can be revoked at any time. "Capital punishment" on a ONE STRIKE COUNT [barking, getting loose however, etc]. BTW, bitches are only fertile fourteen (14) days a year and typically confined by owners!]

Only the comatose would have failed to see through the ploy of Steinberg, but Democrats on the Apropriations Committee bought his claim there were no significant costs; actual "costs" of the unfunded mandate will be set and enforced by local venues of Animal Control and their UNIONS, who will bill at will as usual, the backfill of the financial debacle in CA.!

Furthermore, Steinberg has proposed another budget rendition in reducing "safe harbor" for pets that may find themselves in Animal Shelters [safe custody a valid expectation as reciprocal services for licensing fees] from six (6) days under Hayden legislation to only three (3) before euthanasia. SB #250 will also prohibit release of pets to OWNERS refusing to subject their pets to CASTRATION/HYSTERECTOMIES, pay costs, absorb and suffer any harm to their pets, even deaths, and those emotional and financial costs of disposal of carcases of their family member(s),.

Such the caliber of our "leadership" in our CA State Senate curiously enough not detected by editors and journalists of The Times,when the same analogy applies to superiority of welfare of PUBLILC EMPLOYEE UNIONS or the general public welfare, health and safety?

Set forth iare validated Veterinary studies related to major surgical procedures, CASTRATION/HYSTERECTOMY, to cause those reeling in this economic Tsunami to ponder "who is running this state?" Notably claims of "reduced agression" and "cancer prevention" are totally contradicted: and still overlooked by "inquiriing reporters/editors?"



Dogs should never be allowed off-leash since they can be dangerous to other dogs and people. I was mauled by a dog when I was 8 years old by an off-leash dog. I also was bit when a large dog on a leash was allowed to come up to me while holding a small dog on my lap. The large dog immediately attacked the small dog and ripped it out of my hands. I'm also tired of having non-service animal dogs inside of stores, especially food stores. It's time for the county health departments to start punishing stores and owners. If you have to go to the store, leave your animal at home or in the car with the air conditioning on. There are too many stupid dog owners out there who are totally irresponsible. I've owned 4 dogs over the past 54 years and my dogs are always on a leash, are never allowed to approach another person or animal, and are only loose when in the secured back yard.

Mdm Mignon

"There are too many stupid dog owners out there who are totally irresponsible."

You may be unaware, Chuckkel, but you have now created a serious curiosity as to just how intelligent and responsible you, yourself, might be?

The Pet food, care, and supply industry is a $72Billion industry in the U.S.; $32 Billion for veterinary care alone.



Any dog running loose in public areas ought to be captured and put down (unless, of course within a designated "no-leash" zone) and the owner when identified ought to pay the killing costs paid by taxpayers' money as well as a heavy fine.


What's the deal with all the dog laws, you ask?

As a longtime LA dog owner myself, I only wish they were more enforced. These laws exist not to inconvenience dog owners but for the public health and safety of all - dogs, their owners and non-owners alike. I live in West Hollywood, and I'm tired of encountering dogs off-leash, no collar or tags, on the streets here, rushing at my dogs or leaving their mess to step in, to make other dogs sick or for others to get the blame. Maybe San Franciscans actually obey laws, and that's why they seem to have more freedoms as a result?

I'm also a professional walker, but I won't bring dogs to parks because of all the risks involved. I can understand the need for space to let your dog run and play with a few other dogs, but big parks like Mulholland are out of control and very dangerous. In my area, there's a group of residents trying to legally get some enclosed space at Poinsettia or Plummer Parks, but I'm afraid that outsiders will ruin what's supposed to be a neighborhood park for the rest of us. This is why Santa Monica residents are so careful about who's allowed in their parks, and I don't blame them.

I personally think that until LA owners start taking more responsibility for their dogs by obeying laws, they don't deserve more park space. Charging these fines, however, is one of the ways that communities fund park projects - get it?


Tonight we were in Santa Monica at a Whole Foods. It was night time and cool enough that I needed a small jacket. I left my dogs in my car (in front of the store) with the windows up (so nobody steals them) while I ran in to grab a salad and a coffee. I came out to roll the windows down before I started eating. An idiot called animal control on me for leaving windows up. He believed they would suffocate from lack of air. What? People sit in their cars doing all kinds of things for hours (even sleep in them) with their windows up. The Animal control came out and even though she admitted that was absurd and my dogs were in excellent health, she threatened to impound them because they weren't wearing licenses. I'm from AZ where it's no big deal. My b/f was there and just recovering from a massive heart attack. That stress was the last thing we needed. We will never go to SM again. Not to shop or go to a restaurant, etc. If I have to drive through there, I'll make sure we have enough gas in the car. This is truly a Nazi place (this isn't the only incident we've had there that was Nazi in nature). SM must stand for Sanity Missing.

NY Tails

This just sounds ridiculous. Why does the city government see the need to control every aspect of people's lives? If individuals have problems with other individuals, let them work it out instead of passing huge umbrella laws that effect everyone!



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