Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Amherst leash law to be kept in effect

By Katie Landeck

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Be sure to check your watch before you let your dog off its leash at any of Amherst’s conversation areas.

Because if it’s after 10 a.m., it’s a no go.

Last week, the Amherst Conversation Commission voted in a 6-1 decision to keep a rule that allowed dogs to run free in conservation areas before 10 a.m., but not after, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Dog owners who allow their animals to go unleashed after 10 a.m. could be issued a ticket by Carol Hepburn, the Amherst animal wellness officer.

According to the Gazette, she has yet to issue a ticket.

But, that might be coming to end.

“If I catch anyone in there, I will issue a fine,” Hepburn told the Gazette.

Hepburn added that she supports the new law.

The rule is a compromise between dog owners who want more leash-free hours and other patrons of the park – such as mountain bikers and hikers – who are concerned about out-of-control dogs.

The rule was piloted in Amethyst Brook and Lower Mill River areas starting last November, according to the Gazette. Since the rule’s inception, some of the trail’s non-dog owning patrons have seen a decrease in out of control dogs.

Matthew Cornell told the Gazette that “he has had fewer problems with dogs chasing him since the 10 a.m. rule went into effect.”

But, Cornell still feels that dogs should be kept on leashes at all times.

“Voice control is a myth, and unleashed dogs are uncontrolled dogs,” he said to the Gazette.

“Uncontrolled dogs in public conservation areas mean they will be unfriendly, unwelcome and potentially dangerous.”

University of Massachusetts senior Stephanie Polgar does not think that allowing dogs to run free is a problem.

“In Amherst, there are not many facilities for dogs to play,” she said. “Parks are a reasonable place for that.”

Polgar said that she thinks the commission’s compromise is “reasonable,” but it “does mean the dog owners will have to wake up earlier.”

Senior Brad Lusignan said Amherst could have come up with a better solution to the dog problem. “It could work, but if people aren’t free before 10 a.m., I don’t know if it is the best solution,” he said.

Lusignan suggested a system where people could submit complaints about a specific pet or pet owner. After an owner had a certain amount of complaints lodged against them, they would be required to keep their pet on a leash.

Junior Alex Bulger agreed with the cyclists and hikers and said that dogs should be kept on leashes. He also suggested that Amherst designate a specific area where dogs could run free, while keeping the other areas on a 24-hour leash rule.

Katie Landeck can be reached at [email protected]

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