Oakland Looks To Change Dog Ordinance

Confusion Over Conflicting State, City Laws

By Willie Monroe

(KGO) - Dog owners in Oakland may soon be dealing with changes to city laws governing their pets. There's some confusion over conflicting local and state laws, and that has the city looking for input on changing Oakland's dog ordinance.

"Blue" seems impatient as he waits outside. Even though it's only been a few minutes, Oakland city officials say this is illegal under state law.

"It shouldn't be illegal, because I mean if you can't bring it in, and you can't leave it outside, what are you supposed to do," said dog owner Toni Longley.

"Currently under the law, you have to be in control of your dog at all times, and you're not supposed to tether your dog on public property at all, and leave the dog unattended," said Sue Piper, Oakland Council Policy Analyst.

The state's new anti, tethering law went into effect in January, and may have with it some unintended consequences.

"The state law is designed primarily for people who keep their dogs tethered as a primary means of confinement on their own property. That's correct. It was not necessarily specifically targeted for people who go to the store and tie their dog up outside," said Adam Parascandola, Oakland Animal Services.

Oakland officials are considering a new dog ordinance that would give dog owners a 15, minute grace period to leave their dogs tied up on the street.

"I don't feel comfortable leaving my dog outside longer than fifteen minutes, so that would be maybe why I could agree with that," said Larice Magpiong, dog owner.

Some think 15 minutes is not enough time.

"I don't think so, because if you're going to the grocery stores there's usually lines, and depending on the time of day or the day of the week. So I think it should be a little longer at least a half hour, 45 minutes," said 'Shanon', dog owner.

Berkeley's animal services manager agrees with a grace period, but there's no plan yet to amend their law.

"At this time, we, generally speaking, unless receive a complaint where an animal is actually causing a nuisance or in any form of distress, we won't go out and look for dogs tied up," said Kate O'Connor, Berkeley Animal Services Manager.

The grace period is just one of several new dog laws under consideration like a pooper scooper law. Currently, Oakland has no law requiring dog owners to pick up after their pets.

Copyright 2007, ABC7/KGO-TV/DT.

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