Leash, or else: Expensive enforcement at Hamilton Viewpoint

Just out of the WSB inbox, from Terry:

I was ticketed for $162.00 for having my dogs off a leash at Hamilton Viewpoint Park (map) this AM. I and many other West Seattle residents have been taking our dogs there for years. We all seem to use the hilly south end of the park as not to disturb anyone. I have never experienced people leaving dog waste there, and often leave with a handful of broken beer bottle glass and trash from the night before. In any case, the animal control explained dogs can’t be off a leash in a public park in Seattle. The only signs in the park ask for dogs to be kept out of the flower beds.

Not word yet if underage drinking parties are still “a go.”

The only official “off-leash area” in West Seattle is at Westcrest Park (map).

99 Replies to "Leash, or else: Expensive enforcement at Hamilton Viewpoint"

  • Meghan January 27, 2009 (10:10 am)

    As someone who LOVES dogs and has a beautiful cocker spaniel, I must say that I’m very happy they are enforcing the leash law more now. Allowing your dog to be off-leash (unless you are in an area specifically designated so) is really inconsiderate to other people. I can’t tell you how many times a week some off-leash dog comes running up to my leashed dog. It’s initially scary for me and my dog, and even when the dog turns out to be friendly, it’s a major nuisance since my dog is suddenly at a disadvantage. Plus some dogs simply shouldn’t be off-leash (like the one that ran right in front of my car to chase a squirrel in Fauntlee Hills last week), no matter how good they “usually are”. In a society, we don’t get to “pick and choose” which laws we want to follow. We follow the laws that exist and try to change the ones we don’t like. So be considerate of others, follow the law, and leash your dogs, people!

  • rbj January 27, 2009 (10:15 am)

    Underage drinking parties are illegal.

    Your dog should be on a leash.

  • nudibranch January 27, 2009 (10:27 am)


  • BCWS January 27, 2009 (10:29 am)

    I live near the view point. I see a lot of what goes on down there. Yes, having dogs off leash at Hamilton is illegal. Everything else seems not to be a problem. Kids skipping class with their friends to get high in mom’s Volvo, no problem. Kids skipping class to drink beer and throw empty bottles at seagulls, no problem. Kids fighting -yes, fistacuffs- in large groups for what seems to be the thrill of getting themselve near unconsciousness. As long as they don’t have off leash dogs, no problem.

  • LMA January 27, 2009 (10:30 am)

    Oh that is too bad this happend to you. I have lots of clients that come to Cafe Rozella on there way to the dog park,and it is fenced off and you can let your dog run free with out a leach, I have been there and I did not have a dog at the time and it is a very nice place to take your dog.the address is 9000 8th Ave. SW , near Cafe Rozella. There is probably other dog parks like it around the area, I just know of this one for now. I bleive that there was a story about dog parks in the WSB.Hope this helps others , not gets a nasty ticket of 162.00 :(

  • mike January 27, 2009 (10:35 am)

    Yay for animal control protecting us from poo and neglecting neglected animals!

  • austin January 27, 2009 (10:37 am)

    Breaking News: City Employees Do Their Job; Scofflaws Fined.

  • Ken January 27, 2009 (10:40 am)

    As a fellow dog owner, I might sympathize with your plight but for a few facts.

    West Seattle is over run with those who think the law does not apply to them. Every school yard and city park is infested with those who think the law does not apply to their dogs.

    I don’t care if you pick up the poo, I don’t care if you pick up some litter. It does not give you the right to use the public spaces of the city as if it were the yard you did not acquire with your condo before you bought your dogs.

    The leash laws are their to protect all users of the park whether they own dogs or not. They happen to protect most dog owners too.

    I have a cute 50 lbs Husky who will never ever admit that any other dog, regardless of size, is the alpha dog. She stays in the yard or on a leash.

    I have a lab mix that is easily intimidated and will only fight when he can’t run. But a scared 100 lb is not something I expect my neighbors to deal with when they are walking their leashed dog, so he only goes out on a leash.

    What part of “The law states that it is unlawful for any owner of a domestic animal, except cats and pigeons, to allow it to run at large, but that pets may be removed from the premises of the owner if restrained by a leash that is eight feet or shorter, and if in physical control of a person.” is so freakin hard to understand?

    Seriously. You left out the mantra of idiot dog owners everywhere:
    Don’t worry, they won’t bite…!


  • thee January 27, 2009 (10:40 am)

    these citations are quite easy to dispute and if it’s yr first time, odds are good the judge will let you off. the entire process is quite quick and very easy and well worth the effort…

    give it a shot…

  • Terry Smith January 27, 2009 (10:43 am)

    Thanks for the tip. The animal control guy said it was worth disputing also, Cheers!

  • Loree January 27, 2009 (10:44 am)

    Any 8-year-old knows that “But everybody else does it!” isn’t a viable defense. You broke the law (and endangered your pets in the process). You’re getting off light, you big crybaby.

  • Rich January 27, 2009 (10:51 am)

    Thanks for the heads up, Terry.

  • DavidF January 27, 2009 (10:55 am)

    I will try to live by the “Golden Rule” today. I won’t look to other’s for my guidance, but will strive to act with little, or no, impact towards others. I am thankful to Animal Control for doing their jobs, and hope that all dog owners(myself included) will follow the law, and realize that the laws are there for the safety of all.

  • Melissa January 27, 2009 (11:09 am)

    That’s a drag. Sorry you received such an unreasonable fine. Thanks for letting everyone know.

  • RobertSeattle January 27, 2009 (11:10 am)

    Does the city has some “grand design” for that open area for east of the view point? Either a leash free area or playground would be an excellent use of that “dead” area. Or would Nimbyism take over…

  • Hutch January 27, 2009 (11:13 am)

    You should contest it if it’s your first…the city’s looking for revenue as well as anyone else and are getting over-zealous about it. You can always claim financial hardship, especially in these times.

  • cruiser January 27, 2009 (11:16 am)

    As an aside(kind of), I took my girl to Luther Burbank off leash on Mercer Island over the weekend. It just reopened last week and is located just off I90. It’s very nice with water access.The dogs were having a grand time the people however…

  • carlab January 27, 2009 (11:16 am)

    Thanks to Animal Control! I am SO SICK of walking my dog in West Seattle on a leash and running into people who think they and their dogs are above the law. Lincoln Park is the worst!!! I have complained to AC many times about it and it seems that they are being more agressive. I’m glad you posted the ticket fine and while it can be reduced, it is a hassle so JUST FOLLOW THE RULE! There is a wonderful off-leash dog park in West Seattle, so why not go there?

  • bradj January 27, 2009 (11:18 am)

    Leashed dogs react differently to off-leash dogs. It’s really not fair to the animals or the owners if you care about either one of them. Why is this such a difficult law for pet owners who care about their pets to follow?

  • safetyfirst January 27, 2009 (11:24 am)

    I agree with having leashes on dogs and following leash laws, although it’s a bummer that there aren’t more off-leash areas for well behaved dogs (although, many THINK their dogs are well behaved, and that’s the problem with off-leash areas).
    Terry, it’s a bummer on which they choose to enforce and what they choose not to enforce. You can bet some of the underage party kids were driving after they were drinking, but doubtful that there was much patrolling going on.
    Two different regulatory bodies (animal control vs. SPD), two different senses of urgency!

  • JumboJim January 27, 2009 (11:25 am)

    You’re probably the fist person in the city to have ever received a fine for an off-leash dog. Consider yourself part of history and move on. BTW, pretending you didn’t know it’s illegal to have an off-leash dog in a park is just bizarre. Ever heard of “off-leash parks”? Doesn’t that tell you the other parks are “on-leash parks”?

  • JoB January 27, 2009 (11:26 am)

    I am sorry you were fined… but you knew about the leash law.

    Thinking you can get away with breaking a law is not a good defense when you get caught.

  • Hutch January 27, 2009 (11:28 am)

    Westcrest Park (“east” side of WS near 9th Ave SW and Cloverdale) is also off-leash.


  • Dog Owner January 27, 2009 (11:28 am)

    Hooray! Kind of a meager fine, but if it got your ire up enough to write about it, at least it’s enough to have had an impact. In addition to the fine, I wish they’d taken the animal and either made you jump through hoops for a couple days to recollect it (and billed you for the associated costs), or adopted it out to someone responsible.

    Leash it or leave it at home.

  • mongo January 27, 2009 (11:30 am)

    I keep re-reading this — trying to figure out why it’s “news-worthy”…

    Seattle has laws that require dogs to be on-leash in public spaces — with fines for violation. Someone violated this law, was caught, issued a citation, and fined. Isn’t that how our system is supposed to work?

    As a dog-owning Seattle resident, I understand that it’s my responsbility to know the laws regarding my dogs — and to accept the penalty if I’m caught violating them. If I don’t like the laws, then I work to try to get them changed.

    If the submitter wants to have an off-leash area designated at Hamilton, I’d recommend they contact COLA, the Off-Leash citizens group to get the process started…

  • onceachef January 27, 2009 (11:34 am)

    You know…all of you stating “you should know better” need to get off your high-self-righteous- horse”…you all have broken some law at some point (jaywalking, speeding, illegal turns?) and luckily for you, haven’t been caught…the moment you are, you’ll be pleading your case as well…give Terry a break.

  • glocson January 27, 2009 (11:35 am)

    Terry: Don’t worry about putting your dog on a leash. It’s not like dogs get scared of little kids. Also little kids never go to a park. Just do what you want to do. Also where is a good cat park? I guess dog owners are special. Or where is a park I can ride my bicycle? I always get yelled at in Schmitz Park by dog walkers. The lady with two St. Bernards really likes to get bent out of shape. I’m sure those two behemoths’ urine causes more damage than my bike…… Chief Leasheye park??

  • WSB January 27, 2009 (11:38 am)

    It’s newsworthy because for all the publicity about this over the past year-plus, there are still people who don’t realize that they ARE at risk of a fine if they are offleash any place that’s not explicitly approved as offleash – AND who may not be aware that animal-control officers ARE out there patroling – TR

  • M January 27, 2009 (11:42 am)

    $162 seems like a hell of a fine. You should have got off with a warning. I ALWAYS contest tickets, usually my laywer does it but for a non-traffic low value like this I would just do it myself. Don’t know if you can do it in this case but supeana the animal control guy so he has to show up or it’s dismissed.

  • MAS January 27, 2009 (11:42 am)

    As someone who’s dog was recently attacked by an off-leash dog, and who’s friend’s dog was attacked a couple weeks ago in the same situation I can honestly say that you are putting your dog in serious danger from cars, other dogs and now me & my can of pepper spray when illegally allowing your dog to roam off-leash in a public place.

    I love dogs, and I REALLY don’t want to ever harm one, but if it’s me and my golden-doodle or your off-leash pup, I’ll do what I have to.

  • Living in West Seattle since 1985 January 27, 2009 (11:53 am)

    Wouldn’t it be WONDERFUL if the city made a fenced in “off-leash” area for dogs and people to enjoy in a section of Hamilton Park? I can’t think of a more needed addition to West Seattle. It would be perfact to have an off leash area there. Dogs and their people need spaces to enjoy too.

  • Donna January 27, 2009 (11:55 am)

    Glad to see animal control is writing tickets. I’m tired of dogs running up to my toddler and scaring her when she’s trying to run around in a park. At Lincoln Park we can barely walk around one bend in a trail without her coming nose to nose with a panting dog, whose owner is twenty yards away yelling, “Oh, he loves kids!!!”

  • d January 27, 2009 (11:57 am)

    Since Terry mentioned the $162 fine, let’s also mention the $500.00 fine if you are caught with a dog on any beach in the city. I’ve only come across one person who has and they received it on Lowman Beach. $500!

    Particulary relevant to me is the presence of density housing everywhere in WS in the past three years. Golly, once that housing came in the number of cars and the number of people walking around with young dogs just exploded. This is my observation from being a regular walker with my older dog every where in WS, including using Westcrest.

    There simply isn’t the “carrying capacity” for unattended, unleashed dogs anymore. Too many inexperienced owners, too much poop in too small an area. The halcyon days of free-ranging dogs in an “exclusive” public park are over. The fines are outlandishly expensive for a first time offender. You can contest it to reduce the fine, even though I rather suspect your innocence of off-leash laws is certain. However, a second offense, or more? Well, then, folks deserve it, I would say.

    We all need to change some habits in order to get along in tight quarters, if you will. Putting our dogs on leashes is a small problem, don’t ya’ think? Look around. I do.

  • onceachef January 27, 2009 (11:58 am)

    If you “do what you have to do” MAS, you might end up in court…and it won’t be for just a ticket. Why is everyone going “bonkers” over this? There’s such an air of desperation and anger over the fact that Terry’s dog was off leash…lock your doors, leash your dog, the sky is falling…oh no! Sounds like we need a human-leash law!

  • Neighbor January 27, 2009 (12:16 pm)

    Aggghhh-I hate being caught by the Man! Go to the judge, it’ll get reduced. Thanks for the heads up!
    I hate this, I pay how much in taxes for parks and yet there are only a couple of off-leash parks in this town. I don’t have kids but do I complain about having to pay for schools! No, because I understand that it’s for society’s greater good. Dog parks are too and we nee more funding and more access to off leash areas.

  • MAS January 27, 2009 (12:19 pm)

    So, onceachef – when I am walking my dog on a leash and I’m attacked by a roaming off-leash dog as happened a couple of weeks ago – what do you suggest that I do? The injuries that my dog suffered from that attack weren’t life threatening, so I guess your take is that it’s not really a problem? My friends dog DID end up at the vet after it was attacked with some vet bills to deal with – still not a problem? Or it is your opinion that we don’t have a right to defend ourselves from dog attacks?

    You’re right of course, someone might take me to court for defending myself and my dog from a dog that’s off leash in violation of the law – but I’m not worried about the outcome.

  • seattlemarty January 27, 2009 (12:21 pm)

    Jiminy, will you start running ‘news’ items for people whining when they get speeding tickets too? The law was broken and a citation was written. I can’t for the life of me see why that is ‘newsworthy.’ Posting stories like this has the potential to impact the community influence that your wonderful blog is attaining / has attained. Just one opinion … I’m sure others will differ.

  • BB January 27, 2009 (12:21 pm)

    I am always surprised how much debate this topic causes. I have a dog, I wish there were more off-leash areas but there are not. What is so hard about following the rules? They were established LONG before you got your dog. Its not fair to people (or dogs) that are not expecting to deal with off-leash dogs to have to worry about it. I am sure your dog is friendly and never leaves your side but no-one else knows that. Pay your fine for breaking the law and go to Westcrest next time.

  • furor scribendi January 27, 2009 (12:23 pm)

    Glad to see a ticket for pet owners who feel above the law. Some officer should stand in the playfield due south from the WestSeattle High gym, which is taken over by dog owners 24/7, and then students have to take PE there – – talk about avoidable health problems our kids face. The officer could write a book of tickets per shift, and three cheers.

    As for those who turn over their self-acknowleged mischief to their attorney(s)… why don’t you grow up and grow a conscience? Work the system enough and the system will someday work you.

  • WSB January 27, 2009 (12:28 pm)

    SM, I made the mistake when working in “old media” of ignoring stories that served as reminders to people about the law, for better or for worse, or other so-called “don’t run with scissors” stories, by saying “Oh, EVERYBODY knows that.” No, everybody DOESN’T.
    Publishing this item is not a value judgment on our part about whether the law is right or wrong (we personally have only editorialized once in the past two years, about the government communication challenges during the snowstorm), but in my view, right or wrong as co-publisher of the site, it’s serving an educational function. Not just about the law itself, but also: I’m continually surprised by the number of people who don’t know there IS an off-leash park in West Seattle, as an option to risking a $162 ticket (although as is emerging in the discussion, there seems to be a considerable yearning for there to be more than one – perhaps someone will eventually coalesce an organized effort to pursue something on some corner of West Seattle’s seemingly abundant parkland).
    And yes, we have written about speed-emphasis patrols before too, including publishing police reminders about them.
    For what it’s worth, what I thought is most interesting about this is the location. I would personally imagine animal-control officers patroling Alki or Lincoln Park (where my son and I were almost alone in NOT being accompanied by a dog during our walk yesterday afternoon – all but one of the dozens we saw, however, were law-abidingly leashed), not necessarily some of the not-as-busy spots like this.

  • Brian January 27, 2009 (12:30 pm)

    and this one time, on the highway, I got pulled over for speeding! I was only going a little faster than everyone else and the cop gave me $100 ticket!

    Oh ma Gosh!


    West Seattle Dog owner here. 2, to be exact and both my boxers are leashed anytime they are out of the yard. I hate when we are at Lincoln park and an unleashed dog runs over to mine. The owner just smiles and says, “Dont worry, it’s harmless”

    How do you know MY dogs aren’t harmless, or how the two will react to each other.


  • onceachef January 27, 2009 (12:30 pm)

    Sorry you and your dog got attacked MAS, that would be horrible. But, the fact is that leashed dogs attack people and other dogs as well…it’s called “leash-aggressiveness”. With a leash they can eventually be controlled, but some damage will be done to the dog(s) and possibly to the humans…more dog bites happen when trying to break up a fight than just ad-hoc. If a dog is aggressive that’s a different story than Terry’s issue and letting her dog off leash at a park. You can leash every dog in the world and there’s still a chance a fight would break out…once again I am sorry you got attacked.

  • Dog Owner January 27, 2009 (12:34 pm)

    The only time I’ve seen leash-aggression has been when a leashed pet was approached by an unleashed animal. Try again.

  • B-squared January 27, 2009 (12:39 pm)

    YAY for animal control!!! Finally. Although i think a higher fine would be a bigger deterrent.
    i hope animal control visits lincoln park and lowman beach next.

  • KSJ January 27, 2009 (12:41 pm)

    Would be great to have an off-leash park in the mid- or north-end of West Seattle so that we don’t have to drive so far. I wonder how off-leash areas are created?

  • WSB January 27, 2009 (12:48 pm)

    These folks might have some insight

  • safetyfirst January 27, 2009 (12:49 pm)

    My dog has some leash aggression, and I have seen it triggered by off-leash and on-leash dogs. Usually involves my dog being startled or surprised by another dog, because we usually stand off to the side calmly when we pass another dog on the street. The point is, if both dogs are leashed and controlled by their owners, the leash-aggression is far less likely to happen.

  • CityDogsAreUs January 27, 2009 (12:52 pm)

    KSJ –

    The people who have succeeded committed to a long process. I am told that grass roots groups who have succeeded in getting the dog parks are those who were STRONGLY organized before even approaching the Parks Dept. I was told they had researched the process, strategized and had possible land purchased or the funding of purchase was researched. They had dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s.


  • PDieter January 27, 2009 (12:56 pm)

    Illocano’s have a nice saying:

    I eat dog but I don’t eat my dog.

    I’m amazed there are 40+ replies to this, shocked and amazed. Who knew?

  • Loki January 27, 2009 (12:58 pm)

    Finally, animal control is out and about. I’ve called them a # of times about unattended dogs around Hiawatha, to no avail.
    I, too have small kids, and don’t appreciate it when people have big dogs on the play equipment because “my dogs are nice dogs”. They may be nice, but they scare the bejesus out of my kids. Not that you could tell from them crying, screaming and running away.

  • LoHo January 27, 2009 (1:06 pm)

    AWESOME – dogs off leash are dangerous. Glad that animal control is FINALLY cracking down.

  • JimmyG January 27, 2009 (1:08 pm)

    Many of you seem confused about who enforces what here in Seattle. Animal Control will write you off-leash tickets, and Seattle Police will handle the underage drinking/pot smoking/littering juveniles.
    Complaining that you got an animal violation ticket and that the cops won’t do anything about crime in the parks is mixing apples and oranges.

    I say go Animal Control! Write as many off-leash violations as you can. Maybe then the strident dog owners who think their precious pawprints are on a higher evolutionary plane than the rest of the dog world will see the light and snap a leash on Fido.

  • homesweethome January 27, 2009 (1:11 pm)

    Glad Animal Control is out and about – maybe they can come over to Hiawatha next? And if there is underage drinking, getting high etc going on at the Viewpoint – call the police! We do it for our alley when there is a problem, the police may not make it everytime but there is then a record of the call and the more they get the more meaningful it is.

  • What January 27, 2009 (1:13 pm)

    My dog is on a leash, yours needs to be too. When I want my dog to run free I let her run in MY yard, take her to a dog park or go far out of the city.

    I’ve had numerous dogs approach my dog with the owner saying “it’s okay, he’s friendly”, at that point I want to hit the person. Maybe next time I’ll let my crazy super mud paw Golden Retriever jump all over your nice clothes and say “it’s okay, she’s friendly”.

  • seattlemarty January 27, 2009 (1:13 pm)

    Thanks for responding, I see your point. Perhaps I was mostly reacting to the tone of the email. It is your blog, I’m always free to start another one, though I doubt I’d do it as well.

  • angelescrest January 27, 2009 (1:40 pm)

    Question: When you see an owner w/a dog off the leash, do you say something to the owner? I do–I have, w/the knowledge that that person’s probably gonna think or say I’m a jerk.

  • d. January 27, 2009 (1:43 pm)

    I’m not sure what if anything “underage drinking parties” have to do with you breaking the law by having your dog off leash. You broke the law, you got caught, deal with it rather than trying to point out someone else breaking the law as well.

  • mongo January 27, 2009 (1:46 pm)

    In reply to KSJ’s question:
    “I wonder how off-leash areas are created?”

    There is a community group, Citizens for Off-Leash Areas, that has been extensively involved in many of the off-leash area proposals. Here’s a link to their web site:


    They can help the neighborhood develop the application to the Parks Dept.

  • beachdrivegirl January 27, 2009 (1:56 pm)

    I have contacted the parks department numerous times about adding another off leash area to West Seattle. It sounds like it is an uphill battle b/c according to them we have an off leash park (Westcrest Park) despite the fact that West SEattle is a big area & Westcrest is not close to some folks. I would be happy to work with a group in West SEatle to go to the parks department and argue for a second off leash park. And in the meantime, I hope all of these people that are on their high horse about not havinga dog off leash dont ever break the law. As someone mentioned this includes going above the posted speed limit, not wearing you seatbelt, crossing the street not in a crosswalk, sledding in the street etc. I also hope that if these people are that passionate about their feelings rather than to take it out on Terry or other off leash dog owners take it to animal control.

  • ellenater January 27, 2009 (2:01 pm)

    I’d be in favor and even support another off leash park in West Seattle. But I’m sorry to say, I have no sympathy at all for you. I am sick to death of having off leash dogs come up to my dog on walks. Every one I’ve encountered has been rude and “above the law”. I’m sure you are a decent person but you need to understand that those laws are there for a reason. Here are just some:

    1) giardia. NOT everyone picks up the poop. Kids PLAY there.
    2) upsetting to leashed dogs. dogs give off energy that you may not even notice. An unleashed dog has more power than a leashed dog and that can be not only dangerous, but disturbing to the leashed dogs.

    3) unsafe for dog. Your dog could be spooked, be attacked by a wild animal, be abducted, or run in the street. No unleashed dog is completely safe regardless of appearances.

    I hope the number of replies get it through to you. Ya, it’s a pain to drive to Westcrest. I do it all the time. Don’t like it? DO something about it.

    Again, nothing personal. I do think it’s important to leash your dog.

  • datamuse January 27, 2009 (2:07 pm)

    I do, angelescrest. I’m sick and tired of being chased, barked at, growled at, and in one case nearly bitten for the act of daring to walk through a public park. I don’t go to Westcrest anymore because people don’t confine their off-leash dogs to the off-leash area, which makes the trails behind it useless for those of us who just want to go for a walk in the woods.
    Folks, if you want more off-leash areas, then organize and advocate to get them created. As a non-dog owner I’d support you. I like dogs. What I don’t like is the tacit assumption that the rest of the world must want to interact with your dog every time you take it out of the house.
    I also don’t like the reasoning–if that’s the right word–that because other people speed, it’s okay for you to let your pet run around loose. Please. By that logic–if that’s the right word–it’s okay for me to dump my garbage in your yard.

  • beachdrivegirl January 27, 2009 (2:16 pm)

    Just to clarify, I compared the two not b/c I think eithr is okay, but just to kind of get the idea across that no matter waht ticket is given out everyone will probably due one or the other @ sometime in their life.

    Ellenater, great point about the Giardia b/c that is contagious to humans! So needs to be taken very seriously.

  • Meghan January 27, 2009 (2:30 pm)

    I just LOVE how many people are advising Terry to try to get out of paying the ticket. Typical American reaction. I mean, PLEASE! Every dog owner knows there’s leash law in the city! You knew well that you were breaking the law (and have been for years). How about you actually take responsibility for your illegal act and pay the fine? Since you admit you’ve been knowingly breaking the law ‘for years’, consider it a lesson learned for a very reasonable price.

  • glocson January 27, 2009 (2:31 pm)

    I saw a lady run by my house today with a “runners” stroller with a Doberman leashed to the side of the stroller. As I was coming out onto the sidewalk she told me to “hold it” so her dog wouldn’t attack me. Luckily I wasn’t a small kid going to school and she didn’t see me. I’m tired of everyones dogs. Keep them in the yard or on a tight leash. Good job to animal control. I wish they would patrol Alki in the summer. I see plenty of dogs running around on the sand as well as squatting in the sand. And…. keep them off my bike path. My fixie shall runneth over.

  • datamuse January 27, 2009 (2:39 pm)

    BDG, it’s more onceachef’s comment that I was responding to…as a matter of fact, I’ve had my fair share of tickets in my time. Mostly parking.
    Of course, onceachef doesn’t know that (until now) because I’m not in the habit of e-mailing WSB to complain about it.

  • What January 27, 2009 (3:06 pm)

    “My fixie shall runneth over” My 4Runner shall runneth over when you run the red. I hate fixie riders, posers on bikes that can’t keep up with traffic.

  • LisaM January 27, 2009 (3:16 pm)

    My dog was attacked last week by 2 off-leash dogs near Madison Middle School and it was terrifying. The owner could not re-call his dogs and he could not run fast enough to catch them. I was right in the middle of it but there was no way I was going to let my dog get killed so I fought!
    I am now carrying citronella stray (like mace)and am walking around feeling nervous and uneasy, which really sucks quite honestly, as walks with my dogs is usually a simple daily joy in my life.
    Another joy is hikes through Schmitz Park – Please dog owners, leash your pets unless you have perfect recall (is there such a thing?) so that I can once again enjoy walks with my dog!
    Find play-mates for your dogs and have play dates in a fenced yard – that is what I do.

  • mongo January 27, 2009 (3:25 pm)

    In response to beachdrivegirl’s comments:
    “I hope all of these people that are on their high horse about not havinga dog off leash dont ever break the law. As someone mentioned this includes going above the posted speed limit, not wearing you seatbelt, crossing the street not in a crosswalk, sledding in the street etc.”

    I have at some point in my life violated almost every one of the laws above (as have many others — which you correctly noted in your comments). And, in some cases, I’ve been caught in the violation and given a citation. The difference is that most of us recognize that “when we choose the behavior, we choose the consequence” and accept the consequences of our behavior (and then either try to do better or, if we think the law is not appropriate, change the law). We don’t complain about getting caught. That’s why I don’t have any sympathy for someone cited for having a dog off-leash (regarless of whether it’s me, Terry or someone else).

  • drb January 27, 2009 (3:59 pm)

    @MAS – where’d you get the pepper spray? A lot of us responsible dog owners who keep our dogs on leash at all times would have a safer and more enjoyable dog-walking experience if we had a way to keep aggressive off-leash dogs at bay. And maybe, just maybe, a couple pepper-spray incidents would convince the feckless and irresponsible dog owners to shape up.

    Sign me up for a couple xl cans (enough for both the dog and the enraged owner).

  • onceachef January 27, 2009 (4:24 pm)

    I wanted to leave this thread alone, but…I can’t believe a “responsible dog owner” would advocate or promote using pepper spray…remember a couple of things – if your dogs become entangled in a fight your dog is as likely to be sprayed as the “aggressive dog”. What if the unleashed dog is not aggressive? Do you really know the difference in time to “arm” the spray and stop the supposed attack?…there isn’t a dog trainer or anyone who’s really a dog advocate that would support this idea. You’re a bunch of vigilante’s and “dog thugs”…where the heck do you live and how many dog attacks have you encountered? I don’t advocate unleashed dogs, but I certainly don’t advocate pepper spray either…maybe dogs are aggressive around you and your dogs because YOU’RE aggressive….do yourselves a favor and do some reading about why dogs are aggressive…number one reason is they sense it in a human.

  • onceachef January 27, 2009 (4:32 pm)

    oh yeah… Mongo says, “We don’t complain about getting caught. That’s why I don’t have any sympathy for someone cited for having a dog off-leash (regarless of whether it’s me, Terry or someone else).”

    Gee Mongo, pat yourself on the back for a) breaking the law, b) getting caught and c) not writing the WSB about it or complaining…you’re such a “stand-up” character….I think you need to find another reason to be proud of yourself.

  • alki_2008 January 27, 2009 (5:42 pm)

    In general, it’s good that Animal Control gave a ticket. Unfortunate for the person receiving it, but good nonetheless. If I get caught breaking an off-leash law, then it’s the same feeling I have when caught speeding, jaywalking, etc. I know that I “could” get a ticket for those things…if I get tickets, then I’m not going to fain ignorance about the laws and possible consequences of my actions. I will, however, make an attempt to get the fine reduced. For the cost of a stamp…it can be worth it and usually works if it’s a first-time offense. Still end up paying something, just not as much.

    To onceachef, is it really everybody’s responsibility to learn about animal behavior so they won’t be attacked by an unleashed dog? What class should a 5-year old take to know how to appropriately behave around an unleashed dog? And your argument against pepper spray…it’s not lethal, and it’s much better than another dog or person being attacked and possibly permanently scarred from an unleashed dog. If my dog and another dog were fighting, then I would rather my dog gets some pepper spray then more permanent injuries from letting the fight continue. How many dog-fight injuries have you treated? Whether the dogs are leashed or unleashed…a fight between dogs is not a good situation.

  • BB January 27, 2009 (5:44 pm)

    Can I suggest a grass roots effort to designate more off-leash areas in WS? There is ALOT of energy in this forum. I challenge you responsible dog owners (and others who have said they would support another DP in WS) to join me in turning all this energy into a solution vs. just a bunch of bickering…. Tracy, can we create a forum for this? I know there are others working on this already that could use support.

  • onceachef January 27, 2009 (6:40 pm)

    to Alki: Yes,absolutely, it is the responsibilty of every dog owner to educate themselves about anything a dog might do. There are “classes” kids can take to be aware around dogs (believe it or not)… but the parent should be the one who’s responsible for that…dogs aren’t “toys” and kids should be educated about them as they are about strangers or bullies. Are you going to teach a 5 year old to use pepper spray?.
    I haven’t treated any dog injuries nor do I ever wish to…not the point and that’s why I am a responsible owner…if something does happen (to my dog) though, I’m not taking the (ridiculous) pepper spray path, lethal or not…sooner or later someone or thing is going to get hurt from using that stuff itself.

  • zero-to-life in West Seattle January 27, 2009 (6:41 pm)

    When and who decided that it is a dog’s right to run free, untethered, within city limits? I am not advocating dogs be locked up in cages or tied up in yards, but really, how is running free better than daily leashed walks? I love animals, I just get tired of all the dog poop left around, unleashed dogs charging up to me or me and my leashed dog and seemingly clueless owners. It is wrong to assume that other people won’t be scared of your dog. In 4H, they taught the kids to ALWAYS be in control of your dog in public, ALWAYS expect your dog to surprise you and ALWAYS know “where” your dog’s nose was. I cannot tell you how many of these well-trained, well-loved, well-exercised dogs would still try to fight with each other going in and out of the ring.

  • onceachef January 27, 2009 (6:43 pm)

    oh yeah…I’m done with this thread. To BB’s point, we need to channel the energy to a more substantive solution than using pepper spray randomly on “aggressive” dogs….save it for the burglars that seem to be invading WS.

  • rider January 27, 2009 (7:25 pm)

    Dear Seattle Animal Control,

    Please, please, please spend some time at Lincoln Park

  • schmoopie January 27, 2009 (7:27 pm)

    I have a rather aggressive chocolate lab who I cannot take to the off-leash parks. He walks the neighborhood with me on a short leash. (He is only “dog aggressive” and as gentle as a lamb with people.) Everyone who thinks it’s okay to let your dog run free at the park or while you are in the neighborhood, watch out! There are dogs like mine who may be startled into an attack by your unleashed dog, and I may not be ready to pull all 90lbs of him away from your dog. Keep them safe and leash them.

  • Michael January 27, 2009 (8:04 pm)

    Glad to see the City enforcing its laws – which the original writer clearly knew, yet ignored.
    And good to see the sudden influx of new WSB commenters. ;)

  • No More Same Old Same Old January 27, 2009 (8:52 pm)

    I am going to get my can of Bear Spray out of my backpacking gear and if another off leash dog comes rushing/lunging/jumping at me I am going to spray the owner.

  • janetj January 27, 2009 (9:09 pm)

    Does anyone have an idea for a good thing to say to a dog owner who is letting their dog run off of a leash? Not to be confrontational, (if possible) but more on the educational tip – and maybe a little less obvious than “shame on you, you know better” but with the same sentiment?

  • janetj January 27, 2009 (9:10 pm)

    PS of course it’s newsworthy! great job as usual, WSB.

  • ellenater January 27, 2009 (9:12 pm)


  • angelescrest January 27, 2009 (10:03 pm)

    I have just said–not too officiously–“Hey, put your dog on a leash. It’s not safe!”
    No one’s cussed at me (yet);I haven’t tried it in Lincoln Park. I figure I have nothing to lose…though I utterly failed this week when an off-leash Westie came charging at me on my bike, and the owner’s yelling, “Hey, he’ll stop at the curb! He won’t hurt you!” Sure, buddy. Right into the street, looking for my ankles, ignoring his owner’s commands. I’m thinking, “Idiot!”–no words needed.

  • Save Our Streets Seattle January 27, 2009 (10:27 pm)

    People who allow their dogs to walk free off-leash in city parks and near schools (and in my yard) are negligent morons who do not deserve to own their dogs.

    Hooray! Finally Seattle Animal Control is doing their jobs! Where have they BEEN for the past 2-3 years?! How many people and dogs have been attacked in the past 18 months by stray, loose, and off-leash dogs being “walked by” their owners. My neighbors carry pepper-spray or a small bat when they walk their dogs in our section of South Delridge because so many stray dogs attack.

    My small, shy (rescued) dog and I were attacked and assaulted repeatedly by off leash dogs (and their ignorant -usually belligerent- owners) at Camp Long, Lakewood Park, and Lincoln Park. I stopped even trying to walk my dog on a leash in public parks because too many off-leash dogs were invading our space. It’s dangerous out there for a small dog. Hopefully, one day if Seattle Animal Control continues doing its job, people will FINALLY put their dogs on a leash. Sadly, they will only do it because of the threat of fines, not because it’s safer for them and their dogs.

  • fritz January 27, 2009 (11:00 pm)

    A cat looked at me today. I was frightened, ran five blocks and hid under a car. Can we please leash the cats too?

  • tito January 27, 2009 (11:14 pm)

    A finch attacked me today while I was walking my dog. I tried to pepper spray it but some got in my eyes. It burns.

  • littlebrowndog January 28, 2009 (5:45 am)

    I have a service dog. My dog is my lifeline. When your off leash dog comes running towards me with you shouting “Don’t worry, he’s friendly” expect me to yell in response “Call him back or else”. If your under voice control dog does not stop the approach, expect for me to stop the approach however it is that I need to do so. I am not going to wait to see if the approach results in an attack. This dog and previous dogs have been attacked and injured by off leash dogs. Did you know that there is a $1000 fine for injuring or killing a service dog? Would people think they should ask for that fine to be reduced or eliminated?

  • carraig na splinkeen January 28, 2009 (7:21 am)

    A few years ago when I had my then younger son at the Alki playfield, a man let his dog run free and the dog charged my son twice (we had been playing with a soccer ball)…when I yelled at him to get his dog on a leash and that this was not an area for his dog he got all—well, read above for the sanctimony I encountered.
    We’ve had several other such encounters with dogs and their owners—Lincoln Pk is especially bad. And dog poop abounds. We love dogs but love our kid more. Follow the rules, you live in a city and if your dog (playing or not) charges a child, is off-leash unlawfully, etc., expect and accept the repercussions.

  • GreenSpaces January 28, 2009 (10:27 am)

    littlebrowndog – what is your method for stopping such an attack, given your situation?

    I have a 16# Italian greyhound, and I have been having trouble with off-leash dogs in High Point. If I am lucky I have about 5 seconds to get my dog scooped up into my arms and turn my back to the attacking dog, and then turn in circles kicking at it as it is trying to attack me. It bit me in the butt the first time I had an encounter with it – only because I got my back turned to the attack in time. It was jumping up into the air trying to get my dog. I am working with Animal Control and the landlord to have the animal removed – it has also attacked a dog in the ‘hood when it was running around loose being chased by the people who own it.

    I do not know how I am going to hold my dog and also wield a weapon – which is why I have never bought a can of anything altho my father-in-law has suggested “bear spray”, which I think is pepper spray but with a further range. I do not want to walk around with a club or another weapon, since it really should not be necessary. And again I have the problem of holding my pet on both arms and then not having a hand free to protect myself, all I have is my feet.

    I walk my dog on a 6 foot leash – Flexi leashes, at 16’, should actually be illegal.

    I would love to hear any other suggestions for defense under these unique circumstances. Letting go of the leash of my dog is not a solution – she runs about 35 miles an hour and I would never see her again. She also is not able to defened herself because of her small size – and I do not want my dog to ever have the experience of attacking another dog since it is not a healthy behavior to have in the city.

    Thank you.

  • Ken January 28, 2009 (11:29 am)

    Once again I must thank some of the posters for tattooing “Moron” on their virtual forehead for all to see.

    I had already made up my mind to start this spring posting photos on the web of people with off leash dogs in my neighborhood. Some of you are proving that this might be the only thing that will have any effect on your behavior.

    My neighborhood covers Camp long, Longfellow greenbelt, Highpoint and West Seattle elementary.


  • datamuse January 28, 2009 (11:31 am)

    Bear spray is basically more powerful pepper spray–longer range, greater concentration. I think the canister is typically larger than for self-defense sprays too since, you know, it’s a bear.
    That’s scary, GreenSpaces. I’m sorry to say that I don’t really have any suggestions. I hope that Animal Control and the landlord are responsive.

  • LisaM January 28, 2009 (12:16 pm)

    The spray I have is citronella and is really only for “low to medium” agression. It is not seriously harmful to pets or people. I got it at Next to Nature. I keep it armed and clipped to my pocket and have thought through how I would use it. It may not work, but it makes me feel better, and no one would get hurt, people or animal. It may just be enough of a discomfort and shock to break up a fight.
    I just dont know how to respond to those of you who think this is “wrong” or “aggressive”, I dont think you will ever understand so I am not going to try.

  • janetj January 28, 2009 (1:50 pm)

    Photos are a great idea! Post them on the utility poles in your neighborhood! I was also thinking how creepy it might feel if a stranger was taking your picture while you were letting your dog have an off-leash run in Lincoln Park… sounds like a good plan.

  • alki_2008 January 28, 2009 (4:16 pm)

    Greenspaces – according to onceachef, you should just not show fear and then the off-leash dog won’t attack you. Note: a great deal of sarcasm is implied in the preceding sentence.

    If it’s the same dog that’s attacking, then hopefully animal control will step in and get the owner to take better care of their dog.

  • datamuse January 28, 2009 (9:25 pm)

    I wonder, are we allowed to show fear AFTER the dog attacks us?

  • cole January 28, 2009 (9:52 pm)

    I was walking my dog today and a 250 lb. dog jumped out of the bushes and took my hat. What chain or leash will stop that? I think they should have shock collars and we should be allowed to pack weapons to defend ourselves.

  • MaryT January 29, 2009 (1:16 am)

    That person who yells at you at Lincoln Park, “Put your dog on a leash!”? That’s me. Just thought you should know.

  • Terry Smith January 30, 2009 (8:37 am)

    umm. wow.


Sorry, comment time is over.