No Leash Law for Smith County

Published: Nov. 24, 2003 at 8:32 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 24, 2003 at 10:32 PM CST
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County commissioners held a public meeting today to let citizens voice their opinions. In the end, the court decided there will be no leash laws in the county.

County Judge Becky Dempsey says such a law would be "unrealistic" for people who use their dogs to work in the field: "They're responsible pet owners. Those animals know their boundaries. They don't leave their boundaries. To require an individual such as that to cage their dog or a leash law would be a burden that is needless."

One county resident who attended today's meeting agrees: "I came to the court today because I really don't think most citizens in the county are interested in a leash law. We have other ways of controlling animals," said William Pyle.

But not everyone in Smith County agrees with the court's decision not to make leash laws.

"I was out mowing the yard and riding the lawnmower, and CiCi likes to follow -- she's a Pomeranian -- me when I'm outside. And we were minding our own business, and all of a sudden, two dogs from up the corner came, picked her up like a rag doll, shook her. I had to take her to the emergency room," said Cedar Bay resident Sherry Singleton.

She lives in the same neighborhood as the two children who were bitten by a pack of dogs a couple weeks ago. Singleton believes a leash law is the only way to stop attacks like that from happening again.

"There's too many big dogs loose in this area," said Singleton, who says she doesn't see why the city can have leash laws, but the county can't.

Judge Dempsey says it's easier for dog owners in the city to restrain their animals: "They do have yards, and keeping the dog within the confines of a fence is certainly something that would be applicable in the city as opposed to a county."

The county commissioners say a leash law is too difficult and costly to enforce.

Singleton said, "They have money for everything else. And our children and our pets that we do take care of, that people take care of, is worth the money."

Singleton says, in the end, it comes down to owners' taking responsibility for their dogs.

The county commissioners will meet again next month to revisit the issue. Judge Dempsey says they'll work on improving the county's efficiency in handling all the vicious dog reports.

Julie Tam, reporting.