by Matt Rosenberg September 30th, 2012
Following several months of investigation, the Puyallup City Council Tuesday night is poised to give approval to an ordinance that electronic dog leashes and collars don’t meet its code requirements to keep dogs under control in public. A city staff memo to the council explains explains the backdrop. Earlier this year, as The Tacoma News Tribune reported, resident Terry Nelson asked the city for clarification after he was fined for not using a leash on his two dogs in Wildwood Park, although he was using an electronic leash. The fines of more than $500 per dog, were later dropped, and the city agreed to dig into possible code revisions. The ordinance Tuesday is a “first reading” of the proposed final policy, which with majority backing could then immediately advance to a second reading and final approval – or be held for a final vote at a following meeting, depending on the council’s inclination.
Animal control for Puyallup and six other Pierce County cities is run by Metro Animal Control Services, headquartered in the City of Sumner. In May, Metro’s manager Jason Wilson presented the council with several concerns about electronic leashes. He said there are no guarantees they’ll actually work, or that users will get proper training. Veterinarian Sophia Yin accents the possible problems, in Huffington Post. According to the staff memo, Wilson added that with electronic leashes, animal control officers have to initiate more encounters with dog owners who are using the leashes, because it’s not clear their dogs are leashed; and members of the general public will have the same perception, potentially increasing “fear and possible unpleasant encounters.”
The city ordinance to amend the local animal control code adds a new section which spells out that leash “shall mean a cord, strap or chain of sufficient strength so that the animal is under the control of a competent person accompanying the animal.” it goes on to specifically disallow use of an electronic leash. There is an exception for service dogs.
A UK publication, The Mail Online, reports that electric dog leashes have been banned in Wales, yet have their defenders, as well.
The ordinance makes several other changes to the animal control code. These include: