Austin Parks Are Reining in Off-Leash Dogs in Public Parks

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The Austin Parks and Recreation Department is working hard to reduce the number of off-leash dogs in its public parks. The problem with dogs off-leash is that these dogs, while seemingly harmless to their owners, often attack other dogs or even children. Dog owners who are cited for having a dog off leash in a public place face a hefty fine.

There Are 12 Austin Parks Where Dogs Can Go Leash-Free

dog park

Photo: Flickr/Jim’s Photos1

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department operates 12 off-leash areas in Austin for you to enjoy with your dog but in other public parks, dogs must be kept on a leash at all times. Austin park ranger LeAnn Ishcomer says that too many dog owners are letting their dogs roam outside of those designated areas.

“It’s something that we see every day,” Ishcomer said. “One of our top contacts is dealing with folks who have their dogs off leash.” Ishcomer and others in the Parks and Recreation Department are starting an education effort. They’ll use a social media campaign pushing owners to walk their dogs responsibly, and they’re creating a giant, three-sided sign to place in parks where they’re having issues.

“It’s something like 8-feet-tall and so wide,” she said, “so that it’s very obvious this is an on-leash area.” The sign will be finished and making its way to different parks in just a few weeks. Parks and Recreation staff will start by putting it in parks with the worst off-leash problems, like Zilker Park, the Barton Greenbelt, and the Bull Creek Greenbelt.

Rules For Off-Leash Parks

dog frisbie

Photo: Pixabay/Pexels

Even when visiting an off-leash dog park, there are still rules to be followed. Among them, Austin Parks and Recreation asks that:

  • Dogs must be within sight and sound control of Owners/handlers at all times
  • Dogs in heat are not allowed in off-leash areas
  • Rabies vaccinations are required for all dogs as required by State Law
  • Owners/handlers must clean up after their dogs and deposit waste into a trash can
  • Aggressive dogs must be removed from public spaces immediately

When not in these specified areas, the Austin leash ordinance requires dogs to be on a leash no longer than 6 feet on all city land. The maximum fine for not following this ordinance is $500.

Leash Laws Are In Place For Good Reason

off-leash dogs

Photo: Pixabay/ToNic-Pics

According to The Willumsen Law Firm in Houston, leash laws were enacted years ago to prevent the spread of rabies and other diseases, and dog bite attacks. While there is no statewide law in Texas requiring that dogs be on a leash at all times, Houston and many other cities in the state have enacted local laws requiring just that. This is especially important when dealing with dangerous dogs, or areas such as playgrounds where children are likely to be present. While the fear of the spread of diseases may have diminished, the occurrence of dog bites has not. As a result, counties across Texas have maintained leash laws.