Reports of dogs roaming without a leash in public parks are on the rise in Pleasanton, and the police department is working to remind residents of the important safety -- and legal -- reasons to keep their canine companions leashed when out in the city.
A handful of police officers spent several hours at Ken Mercer Sports Park one morning earlier this month as part of a special enforcement event, patrolling to make sure residents adhered to the law that requires all dogs to be on a leash in public, unless at one of the two special off-leash dog parks.
"The leash law is so important, for so many reasons," said Officer Frankie Blavet, the department's animal services officer. "It is the best way to keep your pet safe while enjoying the parks. The leash law keeps everyone safe by preventing dog bites, both for humans and animals alike. Almost all of our dog bite cases are a result of a dog being off-leash."
"The leash law also protects our local wildlife and keeps our pets safe from tragic events, such as being struck by vehicles," she added. "It takes just a second for an off-leash dog to dart after a squirrel and chase it onto a roadway with oncoming vehicles. These tragic events can be easily prevented by having your dog leashed."
The department recorded 48 cases of dog bites last year, with about 90% of those involving off-leash dogs, according to Blavet. Additionally, police have reported a recent increase in complaints about off-leash dogs, mainly at the Sports Park in central Pleasanton, along Parkside Drive just off Hopyard Road.
As a result, the department sent several officers and police volunteers to the park on the morning of Jan. 3 to enforce the leash law.
Most of the residents had their dogs properly leashed, but officers did issue three citations to people with non-leashed dogs, Blavet said. The citation carries a $100 fine for a first offense, and the fine increases for any subsequent violation.
Officers also took the opportunity to remind all dog owners about why the leash law is important, and they even posed for photos with some of Pleasanton's finest pups, according to Blavet.
The department plans to hold more leash enforcement events in the future, according to Blavet. City regulations also require all dogs over 4 months old to be licensed, and keeping dogs up-to-date on vaccinations is important as well, Blavet added.
Pleasanton does have two off-leash dog parks, at Muirwood Dog Park (4701 Muirwood Drive) and Cubby's Dog Park (3200 W. Lagoon Road). Dogs can also hike off-leash at Augustin Bernal Community Park on the Pleasanton Ridge, with trail entrance at 8200 Golden Eagle Way.