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Who let the dogs out? Owners who don't obey Baltimore City leash laws [Hudson's Corner]

9:40 AM EDT, May 30, 2013

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I have lived in Roland Park a long time. People often call me when looking for referrals or trying to solve problems. Sometimes, there is a theme. The theme of this month has been dogs running loose.

First came not a call but an experience my husband and I had walking on Roland Avenue. Two pit bulls with collars, no leashes and no owners, tore past us with jaws clenched.  More than a block away they grabbed a boy's pants leg at West Cold Spring Lane and Roland Avenue. The boy jumped on a bench and the dogs ran off.

To avoid the dogs, we took the long way home. When we came around the corner near Hollywood Lane, the two pit bulls were standing in the corner of a yard. Fortunately, our neighbors have a low iron fence with a gate. We jumped into their yard and slammed the gate. The dogs came across the street and jumped onto the gate. I clapped my hands and yelled, and they took off towards Roland Avenue.

At home, I called 311. The operator said that nothing could be done unless the dogs were on our property. They were not, and had they been, we have no fence or gate to contain them. 

A week later, a jogger, who runs regularly on my street and Roland Avenue, stopped me to say that a big dog off leash had gone after her while she was jogging. She said she followed the dog, andits owner, who trailed many yards behind, to their home. She noted the address and reported it to the city.

I knew the dog she described. I had seen it gallop down our street and run through our neighbors' front yards. I wondered if it had stopped for newly planted garden beds or if those plants were broken.

A few weeks later, my husband was walking on Roland, and the same dog charged out from a yard at him.  My husband yelled at the owner to keep the dog on a leash, which is the law.

Six days later, I ran into a woman who lives in Charlesmead and walks through Roland Park. She asked for my email address and later wrote to me, detailing her recent experiences with dogs off leash. Within a 10-day period, she had seen four dogs running loose in the most dangerous parts of Roland Park. All were well cared for, she said, with collars and tags.

One ran across six lanes of moving traffic on Northern Parkway, then ran north on Roland. The second ran across six lanes on Northern, then turned around and ran back across them, before heading north on Roland.

The third dog, perhaps a boxer, was hit on Roland Avenue, north of Saint David's church. The dog jumped up and ran away, but who knows what injuries it sustained.

The fourth dog was running down Cold Spring towards the congested commercial area. In spite of the traffic-calming efforts that have been made, this area is still dangerous for cars, pedestrians and off-leash dogs.

The bottom line is that in Baltimore City, dogs must be contained in a yard or walked on a leash. Off-leash dogs, or dogs that have broken through their electronic fences, can be seriously injured or killed. Off-leash dogs can also hurt human beings. Yes, dogs do get loose; they like to make a break for it.

The number of recent incidents seems to call for owners to take extra precautions to be sure their pets are safely secured at home or with them on a walk, at the other end of a leash.