Critics Call On City To Crackdown On Dog Owners Not Using Leashes

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Dog owners like to let their pets run free and enjoy areas like Schiller Park.

“I love my dogs. I bring them here. It's open space, and they need to run a lot,” said dog owner Mark Webster.

“We are in one area. We let our dogs run together, socialize,” added owner Larry Lehring.

Dog owners in the park said they believe the roaming and bonding behavior is in line with city code.

“As far as we understand it, as long as your dog is under master's control -- then it's legal,” said Theresa Sugar.

But dogs without leashes are not always under their owners’ control.

Sharon Alvarez and her dog Max can attest to that.

The 11-pound dog is still recovering from an attack that left him with 50 stitches about two years ago.

“It was horrible -- I mean, it was just horrible,” said Alvarez.

Alvazrez said it was a bigger, unleashed dog that attacked Max near the park.

“I was trying to pull Max to me, and (the dog) caught him from behind and just chopped down on him -- just ripped him to pieces,” she added.

With all of the off-leash dogs Alvarez sees in the park and on city sidewalks, she said she fears that someone else will have to go through the same thing.

She’s voiced her concern with the Parks and Recreation Department, and she is not alone.

At a recent German Village meeting, stricter leash law enforcement was a discussion topic.

“If there's no accountability for people not doing the right thing, they're going to continue doing what they've been doing in the past and just ignore the law,” said one person at the meeting.

“So one thing we're looking at:  Is there a way to step up enforcement of the current code?” said Alan McKnight, Columbus Parks and Recreation director.

McKnight said that signage and education on the leash law could help.

Alvarez believes that the city will have to hit owners in their wallets to change behavior. She would like to see more tickets issued.

Other owners understand what Alvarez is saying, but told 10TV that it would be difficult if their animals did not get some leash-free time.

“It would be hard, but if you have to you have to,” said Sugar.

The city’s dog parks are leash-free zones.

According to code, everywhere else is a leash zone. There is no timeline for when city leaders might definitively decide how to more strictly enforce the existing leash law.

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