Councilor Martins Introduces Measure to Allow Dogs Off-Leash at Certain Parks

Councilor Stephanie Martins is advocating for two very important ordinance changes this month related to animals – one for pets and the other for wildlife.

Both of the matters will be discussed at the Aug. 27 Council committee meeting, which will be held online.

The first ordinance is one with quite a lot of support – and likely to have some reservations as well – and it’s change to the “leash law,” allowing dogs to be able to run off-leash at certain parks in the city. Two of the major dog communities where it would likely take place are at 7-Acre Park, and also near the Lafayette School.

Martins said right now the leash law requires that dogs be on their leash at all times when in public places – meaning they are not officially allowed to run in public places, though such things are rather common already in some parks. The amendment would allow dogs off-leash in some areas where it is posted that dogs can be off-leash.

“As the population of the City changes, we see a lot more families with dogs and there are whole communities that are looking for this in public places,” she said. “This change will be very helpful. The administration is supportive, so it’s currently about my colleagues understanding when and where and how and what areas it will be happening. If you go out, you’ll see that most of the people are families with dogs.”

She said she has gotten more than 20 letters of support from residents, and that there is a swell of support in the community for more than just a dog park.

“It makes a difference when there is a community calling for this,” she said.


A second ordinance change comes from the Animal Control Officer, and stems from a situation where pest control companies have been called in more often as wildlife becomes more emboldened during the down times of the pandemic. The specific situation was during one of the heat waves, squirrels were caught in a trap on a hot roof for more than a day. It has sparked a debate about whether these companies are operating humanely.

Martins said she is looking to change the ordinance so that Pest Control companies using traps would have to check them every six hours, and anything caught would have to be turned over to the Animal Control Officer to relocate safely and humanely.

“I know the purpose is to relocate the animals, but we need to do it in a humane way,” she said.

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