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Obeying Leash Laws Keeps Dogs, Wildlife and the Public Safe

May 08, 2015

Despite how it may appear in many places around our great county with lots of our wonderful four-legged friends running around, there actually is a leash law in Placer County. It is a simple rule that states it is illegal for people to allow their dogs to run free in unincorporated areas of the county. Almost every county and city in California has a leash law. Here in Placer County, the ordinance requires that if a dog is off its owner’s premise, the dog must be on a leash or in an adequate enclosure. Obeying Leash Laws Keeps Dogs, Wildlife and the Public Safe

There are some very good reasons why virtually every county and city in California has these laws in place. Here are our top five reasons why dog owners should obey the county’s leash law:

1. It’s the law.

As obvious as this may seem, many people disregard the law. The county ordinance dictates that a dog must be both leashed and under the handler’s control, not one or the other. The intent of the law in Placer County isn’t to punish dog owners but to keep dogs, owners and the public safe. Any dog that causes a bite or a scratch on a human that involves dog saliva must be quarantined to ensure there is no threat of rabies. Keeping a dog quarantined is expensive and there is the high cost to consider; the treatment of the physical and emotional harm to a bite victim.

2. Dogs that are under control are less likely to get into something harmful.

An off-leash dog can eat something it’s not supposed to or drink polluted water, both of which can cause serious injuries or death. Keeping our four-legged friends on leashes keeps them out of things that can harm them. A visit to an emergency pet hospital can be expensive even if it is a bacterial infection from surface water that is easily treatable. A roaming dog can encounter danger from automobiles, people riding bicycles, broken glass, discarded, rancid food or a sick or rabid wild animal. A dog that’s roaming free can get sprayed by a skunk, encounter a porcupine or a rattlesnake, or get injured chasing wildlife. Just like humans, dogs can become hypothermic when in cold water and run the risk of an accidental drowning. When summer temperatures get very hot, dogs can get heat stroke or heat exhaustion, both of which can result in serious injury and in rare cases can be fatal. So please have your dog on a leash in public places.  

3. Just because your dog is friendly doesn’t mean every dog you meet is friendly. 

A multi-use trail through a wooded area or a Sierra hiking trail is the perfect place for people to exercise their dogs. Keeping your dog on a leash prevents unwelcome encounters with unfriendly dogs. Dogs that roam free are more likely to chase wildlife and can spook horses, potentially injuring the riders and the horses. In addition, a spooked horse can kick a dog so hard that it usually results in a serious injury or a fatality. 

4. Not everyone you meet on the trail is physically able to withstand a dog jumping on them or running into them.

If your dog runs toward people and there is a collision, there could easily be scratches or injuries from a dog knocking down a child, a pregnant woman, or an elderly person. A lot of our older citizens enjoy walking in our wonderful parks and on our great trail systems and need to be ensured of a safe environment when they do so. An unleashed dog can unintentionally cause injuries just by being friendly and jumping up to say “hi” to an elderly person or a child. Please have your dog on a leash in public places.

5. People have the right to walk in a public park, on a public trail or in a national forest without being confronted by loose dogs.

Dog owners do not have the right to let their dogs run loose just because they’re in the woods or in other open, public areas. There are local dog parks where dogs can play off leash and there are dog organizations and non-profits that have doggie play groups. Because there are many acres of nature trails available doesn’t mean you get to break the law and let your dog run loose. Dog owners also need to understand that not everyone is a “dog person.” There are many people who don’t want to encounter loose dogs and are afraid of them. People rely on leash laws and go places with the expectation that there will not be loose dogs. When a dog is loose in areas with leash laws, a person’s right to hike without the fear of encountering loose dogs is infringed. So please keep your dog on a leash in public places.

Placer County’s Animal Services patrols areas where problems exist. Dog owners who let their animals run off leash can be cited for violations of the leash laws. Problem dogs that repeatedly bite or injure people can be seized and not returned to the owner to ensure that the public is protected.  

It is in everyone’s best interest to obey leash laws and keep themselves, their dogs and the public safe and free from any bad experiences that may occur when a dog is loose. Making sure everyone can safely enjoy our public areas with our four-legged friends is our mission and we thank you for doing your part and helping us out!

To report loose dogs, call Placer County Animal Services dispatch: 530-886-5500.

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