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

June 19, 2009 | 12:30 pm

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.

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