Letters to the Editor

Leash laws are there for a reason

I sympathize with the jogger who complained in a letter last week that she had been harassed by two uncontrolled dogs while jogging on the lid. The owner’s behavior, as she described it, would probably be illegal under Mercer Island leash law. Leashes are not required for dogs that are controlled effectively by voice, but clearly the dogs’ owner was not in control of his two dogs.

It’s a mystery to me who this owner might be. I’ve spent hundreds of hours on the lid with my dog, and I’ve never seen two dogs and an owner who match the description.

But rest assured, if I or my fellow dog walkers had witnessed this incident, we would have certainly asked the man to control his dogs or else the matter could be referred to the police. We greatly value the privilege of walking our dogs off leash.

In the jogger’s letter and in the online comments, there was some confusion about where dogs are allowed on public land and when they must be on leash. Mercer Island has a “leash law,” but the leash law does allow dogs under effective voice control to be off leash except where “dogs on leash required” is posted. I read “control” to mean not bothering other humans or dogs.

Similarly, there is no law, that I know of, that prohibits dogs on public land except where “dogs not allowed” is posted. King County has an ordinance that prohibits dogs on human swimming beaches, and you will see that the MI Park Department has posted “no dogs” signs on these beaches designated as human swimming beaches. All other beaches are open to dogs.

In our MI neighborhood, we have two beaches, a beach for dogs and people and a beach for people only. No one has to go to the beach with dogs if they don’t want to, but they do have to know where the “no dogs allowed” beach is located. In the summer and winter, the “dogs allowed” beach is frequented by at least twice as many people as the “no dogs allowed” beach.

The dog owners are thankful that they have a place to go with their dogs and even more thankful that people who don’t like dogs have their own place, too.

W. Clark Powell

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