Walking Your Dog Downtown? Leash That Puppy!

On my way home from work last night, as the MAX train passed Pioneer Courthouse Square, I saw a guy with a beautiful German Shepherd walking beside him, and it took me a minute to realize that the dog was not on a leash. Actually, it was probably when the dude kept walking while his dog stopped to sniff something that got my attention.

Look, I don’t care how well trained your dog is (and this one was pretty good — besides the one stop-and-sniff, it walked next to him down the next block), downtown post-rush hour is not the place to be walking your dog off-leash. Like all those folks who say “oh, but I’m a great driver”, it’s not you or your dog that I’m necessarily worried about, but everyone and everything else around you. You never know when someone might be afraid of your dog or a little kid might reach out and grab a tail, causing your dog to snap at it, or when you might encounter another (even leashed) unfriendly dog coming around a corner that will affect your animal. There’s just too many unknown, out-of-your-control factors for anyone not to have as much control as they can, and that means leashing your dog, if only for its own sake.

I’m sure that there’s a law on the books of some sort in regards to this, though a quick search at Portland Online only brings up the on/off leash rules at parks. It’d be nice to think that people would use common sense in non-park areas, but we know how well that usually works out, eh?

11 Comments so far

  1. Kai Jones (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 10:22 am

    I wish everyone in my neighborhood would leash their dogs. We back our car out of our driveway every morning and I’m always worried about the puppies that live next door and the dogs that live across the street. Plus the people walking their dogs to and from the park nearby. I can’t remember the last time I saw any of these dogs actually on a leash.

  2. Kerry (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 11:06 am

    Oh boy, the dog leash discussion again… Some people in Portland have some serious opinions on this and I’m sure we will hear from them.

    Personally, I agree with both posters so far. Dogs off leash annoy me. Actually, it’s not the dogs that annoy me, it’s the owners lack or respect for the law and the rest of the public. I have lost track of the number of times that my kids have been harrasses by off-leash dogs while out playing.

    Multnomah county is responsible for enforcing leash laws. And the law states:

    § 13.305 Duties Of Owners.
    (A) For the purposes of this section, unless otherwise limited, the owner is ultimately responsible for the behavior of the animal regardless of whether the owner or another member of the owner’s household or a household visitor permitted the animal to engage in the behavior that is the subject of the violation.
    (B) It is unlawful for any person to commit any of the following: (1) Permit an animal to be an animal at large*;….

    *ANIMAL AT LARGE. Any animal, excluding domestic cats, that is not physically restrained on owner’s or keeper’s premises including motorized vehicles in a manner that physically prevents the animal from leaving the premises or reaching any public areas; or, is not physically restrained when on public property, or any public area, by a leash, tether or other physical control device not to exceed eight feet in length and under the physical control of a capable person.

    So, unless it’s in a designated “off leash area”, dogs need to be leashed while in public. Period.

  3. jonashpdx (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 11:13 am

    see, now there’s a dog in my neighborhood — with a VERY responsible owner — who is off-leash all the time. but this dog is seriously better trained than most people, and when I see him off-leash, I don’t mind because I know how good he is. and I let me dog run around my front yard sometimes without a leash because he’s been trained not to go off our property. but if either of those dogs were downtown or in a crowd, i’d want them on a leash.

    and per the above law about eight-foot leashes, i’d really like to see some people with those extendable up-to-15-feet leashes get tickets someday…

  4. divebarwife (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 11:27 am

    Huh – I had no idea that my leash was “illegal”

    I use one of those long retractable ones – but the joys of those are that when I’m in a place with no other people around in my neighborhood or out hiking when we go camping, I can let her run ahead of me sniffing and exploring, but because of the retraction when we get anywhere near people or traffic – she’s up close by my side.

  5. jonashpdx (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 11:34 am

    divebarwife: see, that’s common sense use of the extendoleash. but i can’t tell you how many dogs i’ve seen at full extension who then get all sorts of tangled up in my leash or around a pole or are just way too far out from their owners for the “parent” to be able to control their dog. and when it’s a bigger dog on one of those and they get excited, watch out, ’cause they’ve got time to build up some momentum.

  6. Mr. Viddy (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 12:49 pm

    Whoa nelly. My doggy has one of those 15 foot expandable leashes but anytime I am in public or see people coming our way I shorten up that leash. My dog is pretty stable but she can get distracted so I’d never take her off the leash in public.

    It is a pet peeve of mine to see other dog owners with their pets walking free off leash in public. You never know what might happen.

  7. Kevin (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 2:13 pm

    You know what annoys me? Humans off-leash. These humans have a tendency to run all around and they think they own the roads and sidewalks. They have completely transformed the earth to the detriment of all other species, and they are so arrogant as to believe they actually rule the place. They are a dreadful species and the sooner we can get rid of them the better. I can’t stand them.

  8. warner (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 3:10 pm

    Closer to on-topic; Recently had an amusing/horrifying experience watching an off-leash doggie dodge in and out of downtown traffic at about 4:30pm one day. A couple of guys standing at the curb calling him/her, to no avail of course. I couldn’t stand to watch, and there were quite a few folks around, so I moved on to my bus. But really, give me a break. Put your dogs on a leash downtown for sure! Even if it’s one of those anarchist/crosscountry-traveler rope thingies you see.

  9. Lelo (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 6:13 pm

    You know what ***really*** gets me? Kids on leashes. Next time I see one I’m tempted to offer a treat if they sit.

  10. Stephanie (unregistered) on August 12th, 2007 @ 9:30 am

    My leashed dog and I were attacked last night by a loose dog in our N. PDX neighborhood. I spent two hours at Dove Lewis watching my poor dog get his bite wounds cleaned, stitched, and a drain inserted. I was up all night with him since he can’t lie down in a comfortable position. He whimpered in pain all night. Frankly, I have NO patience for people who do not leash their dogs. The “let the doggies roam free” attitude I see all over Portland is bulls*it! No dog, no matter how well-behaved should be off a leash (unless in a designated area). To top it all off, I screamed for help as my dog was being attacked and not a single soul came over to help me (and it was a beautiful day with lots of folks outside). I just arrived in Portland one month ago from the East Coast and I must say the lack of compassion I experienced left me pretty discouraged. Where is the humanity?

  11. jonashpdx (unregistered) on August 12th, 2007 @ 11:10 am

    Wow, sorry to hear about your dog (and the lack of response to his attack). I hope he’s doing better now.

    And I hope you don’t take this incident and some asshole dog owner as indicative of the whole city and its population– coming here (from both the LA area and some time on the East Coast), I have to say that the majority of the people here are willing to step in and give a hand when asked for.

    My own dog ran out of his yard the other day, and it was a good reminder to me both to reinforce his off-leash training and to not have him be off-leash if I don’t have total control.

    That said, accidents happen. I don’t know if the dog who attacked your dog was just wandering or escaped from his yard (which is neglect in itself — if your dog can get out of his yard, don’t leave him in it when you’re not home). but I too have seen dogs wandering my neighborhood unattended.

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