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Wondering about police handling of leash law

I am a resident of Lake Oswego and have lived here for about 36 years. On Tuesday night (Oct. 23) while walking my black labradors, Hula, 8, and Kalei, 5 months, with my 7-year-old son, I was stopped by a Lake Oswego Police officer who told me my dogs had to be on a leash.

While we were talking, I called them to heel and both dogs came to my left side and sat next to me. I cowered in ignorance to the officer’s request and attached their leashes. We turned and went home out of frustration. I also only had one leash for the puppy and was afraid (the officer) would come back and hunt us down.

After that, my son asked why they had to be on a leash. You see, our dogs are rarely on a leash when walking them around our sleepy neighborhood because, well, we are one of the few dog owners in town who have trained our dogs such that they obey our commands. Anyone is welcome to ask my neighbors to confirm this claim. Kalei is not a great listener, but she is growing slowly.

We always put our dogs on leashes when they encounter other people or dogs on our walks simply out of respect for others. They also are a little overly friendly. We always put them on leashes in public areas and parks, too. The bustle of public activity is difficult for a friendly black lab to harness its love and energy.

I thought I knew the code about having “control of your dog” in the city but was wondering if our wacky city council had passed some ordinance while I was buried in the process of surviving the economy. I looked it up and presto! 

Lake Oswego Municipal Code 31.02.100 defines its leash laws as follows, “At Large. Any dog or livestock which is off or outside of the premises occupied by the keeper or is not in the company of and under the control of its keeper, unless restrained by a leash, tether or other physical control device.”

Well, these dogs were both in the company of and under the control of their keepers in my opinion. He was not accusing them of being “at large.” I hope the next time this new officer harasses another one of us that he, too, knows the nuances of the rules we have put in place to govern ourselves.

Granted, I totally understand that he was probably not “used to” seeing a dog “under control of its owner” while off a leash, so I do not hold it against him. We were most likely the recipients of his long bad day already or a poor experience somewhere in our neighborhood. I have been there and understand.

Next time, officer, please assess the situation and rules governing them before interrupting a peaceable father and son walking their dogs in the neighborhood.

Dustin Miller is a resident of Lake Oswego.




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