South sound cities revamp leash laws to address electronic leashes

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on October 2, 2012 at 10:23 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 2 at 10:42 PM

PUYALLUP, Wash. -- Tuesday night the Puyallup city council discussed how to amend its animal control laws when it comes to leashes.

It includes redefining what a leash actually is.

"In summary, the leash needs to be connected to the dog, and to the person in control," said Puyallup city attorney Steve Kirkelie.

The issue came up last spring after a man walking his dog with an electronic leash got out of a citation. The city realized its leash law was too ambiguous.

Ron Pace, of Canyon Crest K9 Center, says with the proper training, the electronic collars can act like an invisible leash that allow owners to control dogs from a long distance.

"I don't think the ordinary person should go out and just purchase one, put it on the dog and push the button," said Pace. "It's not a cure-all remedy."

And if you're out in public, animal control officers say it's not the same as a real leash. It's too hard to tell if a dog is wearing an electronic collar, and just how well trained the dog and owner are.

"We want to make sure if you're walking the dog, you're in control of that dog at all times," said Jason Wilson, manager at Metro Animal Control Services. "We're also concerned from a perception standpoint." 

Puyallup is also considering lowering its $513 fine for owners walking their dogs off leash. The fines would increase for repeat offenders.

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