Thursday, October 30, 2008

Local Animal Laws Online

Have you ever tried to find out if dog poop must be cleaned up or cats must be kept on their own property or on a leash in your town? Some cities and towns are very good about having all laws available and searchable online while others, not so much.

I think back some ten years ago when a roommate of mine allowed his cat to wonder about outside, until one day the cat was picked up by animal control and the owner fined for noncompliance of the city's leash law. Yes, this particlar city did, in fact, have a leash law for both dogs AND cats. When I started thinking about how accessible local laws are or are not, I decided to call this city's animal control office to inquire about the law. My question was simple, "Does your city have a leash law for cats?" The first answer I received was, "No." Having some experience with that law in that city I pressed for more information. After a few minutes on hold, the person came back on and had found, herself, that the leash law did, in fact, cover cats.

I am not trying to put any locale on trial. I only use this as an example of how difficult it can be to stay informed of local laws, particularly those pertaining to animals. If we want people to be responsible pet owners shouldn't we, at the very least, make sure they are aware of the laws they must follow?

In an effort to educate the public, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington has put all Arlington County companion animal and wildlife laws, in layman's terms, online. We hope that Arlington residents find it helpful and it makes it a little easier for our citizens to be responsible, law-abiding pet owners.


Anonymous said...

Gee, that's swell. An outline of local laws. Question! Yes, me in the back row with the hand up. I have a question. Do you ever ENFORCE your laws????????? Once again, while walking in an Arlington park, my on-leash dogs got attacked by off-leash dogs. In Windy Run tonite, attacked by a white and a black standard poodle. Unleashed and uncontrolled dogs are getting to be an epidemic in Arlington parks. They are a danger to small children, to leashed dogs, and to wildlife. One real efficient way to educate people about your law is to ENFORCE THEM!!!!

Animal Welfare League of Arlington said...

Of course your experience was terrible, and we understand your frustration. Windy Run is one of 125 Arlington parks that our four animal control officers patrol regularly. Unfortunately, an officer cannot be at every park all the time. Officers are also responsible for picking up dogs running at large, rescuing injured wildlife and domestic pets, and investigating animal neglect and cruelty. They respond to emergencies 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Officers regularly issue tickets to dog owners for allowing their dogs to run off leash in Arlington parks. Arlington County Park Rangers also have the authority to issue tickets for these violations. We work cooperatively with the Parks Department and will also forward your comments to them. The League will continue to make enforcement of the leash law a top priority among animal control officers’ important duties.