By Jeff Gallatin
City officials are taking steps to make sure dog owners keep a leash on potential problems with dogs running loose in Bay Village parks.
Police Chief Mark Spaetzel and Mayor Paul Koomar cited the increased measure after city resident Gary Stone told City Council at its Feb. 13 meeting he’d had problems with dogs chasing him, in one instance scratching him, when he went through Bradley Park. Spaetzel said at the meeting and later, the department is increasing patrols and will cite people who violate the law requiring people to keep their dogs on a leash.
Stone said in both instances, the police were responsive and professional. In later remarks to West Life, Koomar supported Spaetzel’s patrol moves with both men citing the ongoing interviews to hire a part-time animal control officer for the city, City Council recently enacting tougher animal control laws and efforts to make residents aware of the initiatives.
“We were already in the process of increasing patrols in the parks,” Spaetzel said. “In the second instance, we have cited a person for having a dog off its leash. Officers are going through the parks and, if they see people with dogs, they are talking to them and making them aware of potential problems.”
Spaetzel said violating the leash law is a minor misdemeanor and usually results in a fine. He also noted the tougher animal control laws can results in jail time or higher fines.
In addition to having officers go through Cahoon and Bradley Road parks, Spaetzel said the Columbia Road park by Lake Erie also is getting attention.
“Officers have already issued citations there because we had found problems with some people letting their dogs off the leash and playing in the lake, which they definitely are not allowed to do,” he said. “We also have asked the service department to put up bigger signs there to remind people of the laws.”
Koomar said the city will continue to work on the issue.
“With the increased patrols and an animal control officer coming back later this year, we will have stronger enforcement,” he said.
At the Feb. 13 council meeting, Ward 4 Councilman Tom Henderson presented a letter asking for a surge in police activity and enforcement in the parks. He cited the two attacks on Pellet Drive in the last two years, including the one where two pit bulls killed one dog and injured its owner and his son-in-law when they tried to protect the smaller dog.
“I believe this surge would improve public safety in two ways,” Henderson said. “First, park guests who are cited and fined for violations of our laws will be less likely to let their dogs run at large in the future. Second, I believe word will get out around town that violations of our leash laws result in fines, thereby decreasing the likelihood that any other resident or guest in town will allow their dogs to run at large.”
Henderson said later he knows the administration and the police chief take public safety very seriously.
“I’m glad they will be increasing patrols in our public parks and am hopeful that their actions will cause residents and guests to keep their dogs leashed at all times in our parks,” he said. “Following our leash law at all times is important because nobody ever thinks that their dog will be the one to attack – but, sadly, it happens. It can happen very quickly and unexpectedly.
“One thing I learned while talking extensively with constituents after the dog attack on Pellet last year is that many residents think that dog-related laws should focus on dog owners – not dogs – because only irresponsible dog owners’ dogs cause problems.
Responsible dog owners should have the right to enjoy their pets. I agree with this line of thinking. That is why I expect every person enjoying the company of a dog in Bay Village to do the responsible thing and keep that dog leashed at all times, even in public parks. Letting a dog run at large is not only illegal – it’s also irresponsible.”