Albemarle County Raises Leash Law Fines

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

November 7, 2005

After today, it may cost you more to have your dog unleashed. The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors agreed to raise the fine in certain county neighborhoods where leash laws are allowed.

Josie Perrone rarely lets her dog Frankie run free.

"There are a lot of big dogs in the neighborhood. I would feel safer if he he's closer to me," said Perrone.

It's not only safer to keep your dog leashed, in certain parts of Albemarle county it's the law. Until today, violators only had to pay $25 but now they could pay up to $250.

"We have people that are repeat offenders on this having dogs run at large and the $25 fee is just not deterring them from making sure their dogs aren't running at large," said Suzanne Kogut, Executive Director of the Charlottesville SPCA.

The $25 fine also isn't even enough to cover the cost of animal control coming out to fine the owner or the cost of housing the dog until the owner can pick them up.

"The $250 fee will provide more of an impact and it will make a difference," said Kogut.

Albemarle County officials think the hike will encourage owners to keep their dogs on a tight leash, but is $250 a little much?

"I think the fine is a little excessive, I would be more concerned about enforcement. Are people really going to be able to enforce the laws?" asked Perrone.

Officials agree animals laws are never easy to enforce, but they say that doesn't mean you don't have to follow them and the heftier fine is a sure fire way to get peoples attention.

"If [repeat offenders] have three dogs, and it's costing them $750, those three dogs won't be running at large again," said Kogut.

It's a misdemeanor to have your dog unleashed and once an owner is convicted, it's up to the judge to assign the exact fine.

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