The amended law on dog leashes from the OK Council
The city council unanimously approved an amended ordinance that allows dogs to roam freely during certain hours at seven sites owned by the municipality.
The times and dates that dogs can be released at these sites, however, vary depending on the location. At Conanicut Battery, for example, dogs can roam free year round, but at Fort Getty, they can only be released from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. from October 1 to May 15. Although dogs are permitted at Fort Getty year-round, they must be kept on a leash outside of these times and dates.
The ordinance, drafted by Councilor Randy White, was passed following a 90-minute debate that included scattered applause from members of the public. His effort to rewrite the 40-year-old law, which allowed dogs to be released onto sidewalks from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., began in March. The ordinance also banned dogs on beaches and required that they be kept on a leash “at all times” at recreational facilities.
“When I first undertook the review, I was quite surprised, frankly, at how totally inadequate the current curriculum is,” White said in Monday’s public hearing.
Along with Conanicut Battery and Fort Getty, dogs can also be released at specific times at Mackerel Cove, Potter Cove, Head’s Beach, Park Dock, and Eldred Field. Dogs are allowed to roam freely on soccer fields from November 15 to March 31. They are also allowed at Eldred Field from April 1 to November 14 if kept on a leash.
At the four remaining waterfront locations, dogs do not need to be kept on a leash from October 1 to May 15. Unlike Fort Getty, however, dogs are not permitted on these beaches outside of these dates.
“This list is meant to be comprehensive,” White said. “It’s supposed to be the only places a dog can be off leash.”
While the amended order allows dogs to be off-leash at specific times at specific sites, White said they must be under the direct command and control of their owners. This means that a dog must “come back on voice command or when prompted by a remotely controlled electronic signal”. The owner must also maintain a constant awareness of the location and conduct of the dog, and must wear a leash at all times.
Finally, owners must prevent their dogs from interacting with another person or dog, unless that other person “clearly communicates their consent to the interaction.”
According to White, this provision was “an attempt to address the concerns of those who are uncomfortable” with the “long-standing” practice of free-range dogs in Jamestown.
“If you don’t have a dog, or if you are recovering from an illness, or if you just want some peace of mind and don’t want to be around a dog, you won’t be happy to see even the happiest, friendliest dog will charge you at 100mph, “he said.” Even though all that happens at the end is a wet kiss, it’s just not a pleasant situation This is something we understood, and we tried to remedy it by suggesting that one way to refine the concept of direct command and control is to place a burden on the dog owner.
Aside from the seven sites that allow dogs off leash, dogs must be on a leash no longer than 7 feet anywhere else in town. In Fort Wetherill and Beavertail State Parks, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management requires leashes at all times.
Christine Ariel of Steamboat Street was the most outspoken member of the public in opposition. She described multiple attacks and unprovoked encounters by rampaging dogs.
“As a taxpayer, I want to have the right to use my public lands. I don’t want to be molested by dogs. I want to use the land safely and I believe it is the city’s responsibility to protect me when I am on public land.
Ariel also referred to the difficulty of enforcing the order with owners of loose dogs who don’t follow the rules (“If I can’t identify them, how can you send a violation order?”) And from a conservation standpoint (“They tear up native vegetation.”).
Paul Levesque of Narragansett Avenue also opposed the proposal.
“When did we find it necessary to create legislation that favor animals over humans? ” he said. “For example, our beaches. We know it’s a danger to have them there, and we know that they create a danger with their defecation and urination.
Supporters of the Raging Dogs outnumbered opponents, however.
“Dogs are a very important part of this island,” said Bruce McIntyre from Umiak Avenue to applause. “They provide a lot more comfort to people than they are afraid or have problems.”
There were also dog owners who supported the removal of the dog ban on beaches during the summer.
“I hate to think I can’t use the beach to keep my dogs cool in the summer,” said Marjorie Cottle, resident of Bay View Drive.
The council agreed that it could revisit this section in the future, but did not want to delay the adoption of the ordinance in the meantime.