ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Proposed changes to Anchorage’s Leash Act would eliminate electronic collars and require dogs to be kept on a physical leash in public places.
The possible update to the regulation comes after repeated complaints from unleashed dogs and aggressive dogs, Anchorage Daily News reported Friday.
Current law allows dogs to let go of activities that cannot be done with a leash in an “area normally associated with that activity” such as ball retrieval or agility classes.
As part of the proposed changes, dogs could be kept on a leash for these activities, but they would not be able to roam on sidewalks, streets, multipurpose paths and trails, or in residential areas.
The residents testified for and against the changes during an advisory board meeting on Thursday. The committee plans to review the comments before its next scheduled meeting on February 11th.
Anchorage has its own public areas in parks and on trails for dogs to run around off-leash. State parks and states have separate rules for dogs.
Updates to the Anchorage law have been scrutinizing for years, said Michelle Sinnott, chair of the Title 17 voluntary committee that works on the city’s Animal Control Advisory Board to draft the ordinance.
Sinnott said she viewed the proposal as a public safety issue.
“There are people who are afraid of dogs,” she said. “We had people testify at the meeting where their children were attacked by unleashed dogs.”
One of the biggest concerns concerns people who ride bikes or ski and want their dogs to run next to them, Sinnott said.
Under the new proposal, leashes could be attached to bicycles, said Tamiah Liebersbach, administrative director of the city’s health ministry.
Anchorage Animal Care and Control receives an average of 2,400 calls a year from unleashed or unrestricted animals, mostly dogs, with hundreds of calls about aggressive animals, Liebersbach said.
“It’s not so much that the complaints have increased, but that they have been consistently high over time,” said Liebersbach.
Many dog owners said the current law didn’t need any changes, but about a third of those who testified Thursday reported negative encounters with dogs that were not kept on a leash, Liebersbach said.
“I think it’s really difficult because we want both groups of people to have access to the path and to nature,” said Liebersbach. “How can you balance this access and ensure that everyone can still have it, but is also safe and comfortable?”