City arrests leashless dog owners

Attention dog owners: if you're one of those people who've been flouting the city's leash law along the Greenbelt in Riverside Park, you might want to consider that your canine's free-roamin' ways could cost you some freedom. Or at least some money. This past weekend, the city kicked off a new wave of leash law enforcement, as a community patrol officer issued five citations for leash law violations– a class four misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $250. In late December 2001, the city enacted a leash law in all parks, designating certain spaces and times when dogs can be off leash. While Riverside's rules allow dogs to run free on on the "short loop" (starting and ending at the park parking lot) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, many dog owners are letting their dogs exceed these bounds. "We're going to enforce it," says Charlottesville Police Sergeant L.A. Durrette, "and city and county residents need to understand that the city does have a leash law." Durrette says the decision to ramp up enforcement in all city parks was a result of community complaints,

and at least two members of the community is relieved the city's finally putting some bite behind its bark. He notes that he supported the leash compromise at Riverside. "It was never given a chance to work," says Kevin Cox, whose 8-year-old son was recently knocked off his bike when a dog ran in front of him in a leash-required area. Cox also reports that his wife, who is blind, was nearly knocked to the ground by a dog who ran into her on a leash-required day. Cox concedes the "huge majority" of dogs are well behaved, but he considers the leash law necessary for the few dogs and their owners who don't respect others. Former mayor Blake Caravati says that a friend was in the hospital yesterday getting treatment for an arm broken in a collision with a rambunctious dog at Riverside. "With a growing population, and a growing realization that this is an off-leash trail," Cox says, "more and more uncaring people are going down there." #

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1 comment

I am a dog owner and have a very well behaved, playful, obidient dog. I have, on many occasions, ignored the leash laws of the Rivanna trail and have on several occasions met people with their dogs doing the same and have also encountered several unfriendly dogs who do not play well with others and the dog did frighten me. Although inconvienant to me, I am glad to see the enforcement. It's for the sake of the safe dog owner as well as those who do not own dogs at all. I do wish the boundaries would be extended to the 1 mile mark so that I can run while my dog explores the river. I have a friend whose child had her face and scalp chewed off by unleashed dogs and it has taken her many years of reconstructive surgery to recover. I don't wish that on anyone.