Council passes on chance to revisit dog leash ordinances by 5-2 vote
By DEB WUETHRICH
Two motions for Tecumseh City Council to revisit dog leash ordinances were defeated with 5-2 votes on Monday, May 7. One measure would have approved a first reading of Ordinance 3-12 amendment that was put forth and defeated in 2009, and the second would have authorized City Manager Kevin Welch and staff to prepare an animal control ordinance that requires dogs to be on a leash while off the owner’s property. Council members Larry Van Alstine and Jack Baker voted yes on the motions.
Van Alstine said that Lenawee County is a rural county and the city of Tecumseh is a city.
“Our lots are much smaller. We live closer to one another,” he said. “We have an extensive walkability system and are able to walk our dogs and I don’t think it’s an imposition to require people to leash their dogs when they are in public.” He added that the current ordinance seems lenient as far as dogs being under control in the vicinity of their own property.
“I know being a dog owner for 40 years and I’ve had a number of good dogs, and none of them would I take in the front yard without being on a leash simply because I have too much respect for the public and for my animals. I want them to live to an old age.”
Baker said if he were walking down a city sidewalk and sees someone with a dog not on a leash, it concerns him.
“I get a little scared; I do,” he said. He said he feels the same whether it’s him or his mother or grandmother, and noted that he witnessed an incident last year where an unleashed dog attacked two small dogs that were on a leash.
“That was one instance, but it was one too many,” Baker said. “I don’t think we should have to be concerned whether a dog is under control or not. If they are on a leash, you know.”
Mayor Richard Johnson said, “Going back to March 3, 2009, when this came up, the biggest reason I had for opposing it is the current ordinance is sufficient in defining whether the dog is under reasonable control and I don’t see a reason to put forward that leash ordinance.” He acknowledged that dogs do need to be under control, however, whether on or off property, leashed or unleashed.
Chief Troy Stern said that the animal control ordinance that the city currently has covers the majority of the situations that the police department deals with on a day-to-day basis.
“We’re generally not encountering individuals who are out walking their dogs without a leash; they are typically well-maintained dogs that are able to be controlled,” Stern said. “Our main issue is loose dogs, generally those that have escaped a yard or their tie-outs. Our animal control ordinance actually does cover that.”
Council member Ron Wimple said he didn’t see any reason to change what was currently in place. “I think sometimes big government or city government can be too watchful,” he said. “Just because a dog is on a leash doesn’t mean they are under control. I’ve seen dogs break away with their leash.”
Welch said that he wanted to make it clear to the council members that neither of the options that might have been revisited required a dog to be leashed while on its own property, which some would consider too restrictive. One of the options would have, however, better defined what it meant to be under control.