East Lansing Council Votes to Require Physical Leashes for Dogs in Public Areas

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Wednesday, January 22, 2020, 12:26 pm
Patty Bonito

Above: A pooch named Evelyn enjoying the dog park in a photo by Raymond Holt taken last summer.

East Lansing’s City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night for an ordinance change that requires that dogs in public places be on physical leashes rather than “electronic leashes” except in designated dog parks.

The passage of Ordinance 1481, proposed by Mayor Ruth Beier, should end confusion brought about by two seemingly-contradictory sections of the City Code that address dogs and leashes.

The subject brought many residents to the podium to speak, mostly in favor of banning the use of electronic leashes, but also to express concern about the lack of compliance and enforcement of the leash law in neighborhoods and parks.

While one dog owner, Phil Shepard, spoke of the need for well-behaved, high-energy dogs to be allowed to run in parks with the use of electronic leashes, most spoke of the potential problems with unleashed dogs in city parks.

Abigail Tykocki, President of the Pinecrest Neighborhood, came with neighbors to talk about the problems they’ve run into with people letting dogs run around with no clear control by their owners. When police are called, she said, the owners sometimes leash up the dog before the officer can arrive, making it impossible for the police to write a ticket.

Some residents said they believe problematic incidents have increased since the seasonal closure of the Northern Tail dog park on Abbot Road. City Manager George Lahanas explained the need to close that dog park for winter in order to restore the turf. He said if the City doesn’t close it, it ends up a muddy mess.

Council member Jessy Gregg acknowledged that a small park gets more intense use than a larger park and asked the City Manager to look into where else East Lansing can open an additional dog park.

Council member Mark Meadows suggested that Lahanas review Burcham Park on Burcham Drive, which also houses the Solar Park, as a possible site for a fenced dog park.

Beier said she owns three dogs and wants to make clear “we have nothing against dogs.” She said the issue was that “dogs are not safe off-leash.”

Alice Dreger contributed reporting to this article.

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