ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Proposed changes to Anchorage’s leash law would rule out electronic collars and require dogs to be walked on a physical leash in public places.
The possible update to the ordinance comes after repeated complaints dogs not on leashes and aggressive dogs, Anchorage Daily News reported Friday.
The current law allows dogs to be unleashed during activities that cannot be done with a leash in an “area normally associated with that activity” such as retrieving balls or agility courses.
Under the proposed changes, dogs could be off leashes for those activities, but they could not roam on sidewalks, streets, multiuse trails and paths or in residential areas.
Residents testified for and against the changes during an advisory board meeting Thursday. The committee plans to review the comments before its next scheduled meeting Feb. 11.
Anchorage has dedicated public areas in parks and on trails where dogs can roam without leashes. State parks and federal lands have separate rules for dogs.
Updates to Anchorage’s law have been under consideration for years, said Michelle Sinnott, chair of the volunteer Title 17 committee working under the city’s Animal Control Advisory Board to draft the ordinance.
Sinnott said she views the proposal as a public safety issue.
“There are people who are afraid of dogs,” she said. “We had people testify at the meeting where their children had been attacked by off-leash dogs.”
One of the biggest concerns is about people who want to bike or ski and have their dogs run alongside them, Sinnott said.
Leashes could be hooked to bicycles under the new proposal, said Tamiah Liebersbach, municipal health department administration manager.
Anchorage Animal Care and Control receives an average of 2,400 calls annually about unleashed or unconfined animals, mostly dogs, with hundreds of calls about aggressive animals, Liebersbach said.
“It’s not so much that the complaints have increased, but that they’ve been steadily high over time,” Liebersbach said.
Many dog owners said the current law did not need changes, but about a third of those testifying Thursday described negative encounters with dogs not on leashes, Liebersbach said.
“I think it is really tough because those are both groups of people that we want to be able to have access to the trail and access to the outdoors,” Liebersbach said. “How do you balance that access and make sure everybody can still have it, but also be safe and be comfortable?”