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Dog Attacks Bring Renewed Focus on Leash Laws

After blood was shed in Uptown’s Montrose Beach dog-park in last month, it seems that humans aren’t the only ones in danger of dangerous dogs—dogs are too.

In light of this incident, the city’s leash laws are back on the public’s mind and in the news.

Nick Jasinski and his dog

There are about 500,000 dogs in Chicago alone , of which only about 10% are registered, said Kristine Williams, spokesperson for City Clerk Susana Mendoza. The City Clerk’s office handles pet registrations.

When an owner gets their dog registered, it proves the dog’s vaccinations, helps track of the dog if it is ever lost,  and promotes public awareness of the city’s leash law in general. According to Williams, the City Clerk’s Office and the police department are working hard to promote leash laws.

“It’s a public health and safety issue,” said Williams.

In a year, a total of 4.5 million Americans are attacked and bitten by dogs each year, according the Center of Disease Control.

“I’m not for letting your dog off-leash in a park,” said Uptown resident and dog-owner Nick Jasinski. “But definitely not on sidewalks in neighborhoods. I think they should be on a leash.”

Walking dogs.

Jasinski’s wife was at Montrose Beach dog-park last month on the day that an off-duty Chicago Police officer’s pit bull killed a 2-year-old Pomeranian.

“It’s sad,” Jasinski said.

Jasinski said that some dogs are simply not trained enough to ever be off of a leash, and that’s the owner’s fault.

“My wife and I avoid large packs of dogs,” said Jasinski. “Our dog is good with other dogs, but you don’t know how other dog owners are training their dogs.”

According to Dara Salk, spokesperson for  Ald. Ameya Pawar’s (47th) office, other residents aren’t training their dogs well.

“We encourage people to call the police when they see a dog off of the leash,” said Salk. “Unfortunately, we don’t have enough police to attend to every call like that.”

According to Salk, residents complain to the alderman’s office all the time about unleashed dogs that appear to be dangerous. She said that all they can do is advise them to call the police. However, Salk said that this is also seen as a menial issue to police and is not prioritized.

“Our job is to educate people to build awareness of the leash law,” she said.

Salk said that many residents complain about dog owners that are boldly violating the leash law which could possibly be a matter of unfamiliarity with chapters 7-12 of Chicago’s Municipal Code, which states that in public, “animals shall be restrained.”

According to this code, dog owners must restrain their dogs when they are outside of their property. If this code is violated, they are subject to a $300 fine. And if this violation results in an injury or death, the dog owner is can face a penalty between $1000 and $10,000.

“It is unlawful to have your pet outside of your own property without a leash unless it’s a park that doesn’t require pets to be on a leash,” said Salk.

Though the Montrose Beach dog-park is an off-leash dog park, supporters of a stronger leash law say the killing of another dog shows that some dogs should remain on leashes at all times.

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