There was a recent article in the Tacoma News Tribune about Terry Nelson, a Puyallup man that was ticketed for $513 per dog (he had two dogs) that were not on a leash at Wildwood Park in Puyallup. According to the article, it’s not permitted under city code for dogs to be without a leash when they are on public streets, sidewalks, or other public places. Terry Nelson did have his dogs on electronic leashes, and requested the City Council to update the code.
Electronic leashes are not described in chapter 8.04.160 of the Puyallup Municipal Code which discusses laws for dogs on a leash. When asked what will be the new laws for dogs on leashes and when they will take into effect, Steve Kirkelie, deputy city attorney for the City of Puyallup, replied, “Our City Council asked us for a proposed ordinance for more clarity as to what type of leash for the law. The Council will have a more definitive definition of a leash. We plan to do that on June 19, 2012. We present an ordinance and have two separate readings to consider it. If it passes the first reading, and we don’t excuse a second reading, then we come back for our next meeting in July.
By law, when a city such as Puyallup is passing an ordinance or a law there is one reading for the City Council to review and vote on it. When there’s a majority vote, it passes as a law. City Council rules are specific to us, we want two readings of any ordinance. We want it considered twice for most ordinances so that it can be considered and debated at one meeting and again at another meeting, which provides more process or deliberation. The provision in our rules allows them to proceed directly to second reading (and not have separate readings) if the majority (at least five council members) say that they want to go straight to second reading, which can happen, too.
The City Council meetings are published online, the agenda by June 15, 2012 for the public to make comments. This comment period allows citizens to speak for three minutes on anything they want on the June 19, 2012, assuming there is no second reading. If the City Council adopts their new law, than it can take into effect 5 to 30 days after final adoption (in July) if they do first and second reading, which is the normal course of ordinance. If it went straight to second reading, then it would be 5 to 30 days after June 19, 2012.”
According to Steve, it is $513 fine for any person that does not have their dog on a leash when they are at public streets, sidewalks, or other public places. In the $513 total base fine, $250 of it is made up of state and court assessments (any time there is an infraction, there has to be a base penalty) and the state of Washington has the ability to process a ticket through a court and certain fines and assessments) it’s almost like a processing fee, but it’s not and those monies above the base fine have budgetary purposes that they’re used for.
Jason Wilson, administrative manager for the Sumner Police Department, explained how electronic leashes worked, “The dog wears a collar and it has probes on it and the probes contact the dog’s skin. When the owner carries the remote and sends signal to the collar, there’s an electric stimulation or some collars vibrate and make a noise. Everyone trains their dog differently. By using the electronic dog collar, it stops the dog from its behavior such as, running too far away or getting into garbage cans.”
When asked what Jason thought of the new dog leash laws that were being implemented, he replied, “I haven’t seen the proposed ordinance, so I can’t comment. We are pleased with the Council’s direction with prohibiting the electronic collars in lieu of a leash that they give the city staff at this time.”
Jason did want the public to know that he encourages people to report if an animal is being a nuisance in their neighborhood or park to call: 253 299-PETS and press option two 24 hours 7 days a week. Jason stated: “Check the area and observe the action. When a caller calls in, the caller maybe calling about an animal that has already a record on file (for example, repeat offenders and nuisances). If an animal approaches you aggressively, please report it to us.”
Since we are still awaiting the City Council’s decision with electronic dog leashes being added to the Puyallup Municipal Code, if you don’t want a $513 ticket, ensure your dog is on a leash that is no more than 8 feet in length when you are on a public street, sidewalk, and public place in general. “We’re gonna tighten and provide a more definitive definition of what a leash is, review other provisions in animal control, and make sure our animal control code is up to current standards,” Steve concluded.
By: Carly Calabrese, staff for Tacoma.com