Q: I'm a little confused. I've always understood Lake Oswego doesn't really have a "leash law," and that it is more "dog at large" law. I thought my dog could be off-leash as long as it was trained to follow voice commands and stay by my side. Now I hear that Lake Oswego Police are cracking down on "off-leash" dogs.
A: We understand some of the confusion regarding Lake Oswego's leash laws and to help clarify the situation, we want to discuss two different ordinances that address these rules.
Lake Oswego City Code (LOC) 31.02.120 states "It shall be a violation for a keeper to: (1) Permit a dog or livestock to become at large." At large is defined as "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." So, if you are walking down the sidewalk with your dog at your side you are in compliance with the ordinance. If you encounter a person coming towards you and your dog runs ahead to greet that person, even if it's a friendly greeting, you are then in violation as the dog is not under your control and is no longer in your company. A violation of LOC 31.02.120 carries a maximum fine of $1,000, though currently as a first offense it is a $145 citation.
The second ordnance is LOC 34.12.620 and it states it is unlawful to violate (park) rules. Park rules pertain not only to parks, but also to trails and properties maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department. One of the park rules is that all dogs must be on leash in a park unless it is in a designated off-leash area. Those off-leash areas are at the Luscher/Hazelia Field dog parks, the west Waluga Park off-leash area, the McNary Park off-leash area and the Pilkington Park off-leash area.
If you are at a park, on a park trail or on other property maintained by Parks and Recreation and not in a designated off-leash area, your dog must be on a leash. A violation of LOC 34.12.620 also carries a maximum fine of $1,000, and like LOC 31.02.120, is currently a $145 citation for a first offense. Please note it is a violation of LOC 34.12.620 if you are in the parking lot at Hazelia Field, or any other park with an off-leash area, and your dog is off-leash as you walk to the designated off-leash dog park area. Your dog MUST be on a leash until you are actually in the off-leash enclosure.
There has been a recent surge in complaints to the Parks and Recreation Department concerning dogs off leash, especially at Foothills Park, George Rogers Park, Springbrook Park, the Bryant Woods Natural Area and the Iron Mountain Trail running from the Hunt Club near the Brookside Road Trailhead to the Fairway Road Trailhead. There have also been a couple of reported and unreported dog bites. The Parks and Recreation Department has requested the assistance of the Police Department in enforcing the park rules, not just in these areas, but on all park's properties.
The above LOCs, as well as others, can be found on the city webpage: http:www.ci.oswego.or.us. Near the top click on "DEPARTMENTS", then click "City Attorney." On the left sidebar of the City Attorney's page click on "Municipal Code."
— Community Service Officer Dan Phillips
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