Esky wants to collar loose dog problem

ESCANABA — The city of Escanaba is launching a campaign to curb out of control dogs and reduce the number of attacks on other dogs and their owners.

Five residents took to the podium during Thursday’s regular city council meeting in an impromptu public hearing to share their stories of experiences with loose dogs or as pet owners sharing public spaces in the city.

“The park is for everybody — dog lovers, non-dog-lovers — So I think we’re missing the point. We can’t just focus on vicious dogs,” said Dave Latourneau, who, with his own small dog, was attacked by an out-of-control dog last year and required medical treatment.

Currently, Escanaba’s city ordinance requires dogs be “kept under control by the owner or restraint of a leash while off of the property of the animal’s owner.” Some residents argued Thursday the ordinance didn’t do enough to protect others because it did not mandate the use of a leash, but others recognized that some dogs were capable of being controlled in other ways.

“I have a 14-year-old chocolate lab, and I don’t put him on a leash. I just let him walk and he barely keeps up with me, I have to go slow for him,” said City Manager Patrick Jordan.

According to Detective Lieutenant Darin Hunter of Escanaba Public Safety, who spoke at the meeting, Delta County Central Dispatch fielded 454 animal complaints in the city in 2018. Of those calls, 19 resulted in civil infractions being issued, with 17 being misdemeanor-type citations.

Because an ordinance regulating dogs in public does exist, the council voted to begin an awareness campaign about the issue including Facebook posts, radio public service announcements, and newspaper ads.

It was noted during the meeting the last time the city’s dog ordinance was updated was in 2013. To gain extra insight into the ordinance and determine if any changes are necessary, the council voted to send the issue to the city’s Traffic Safety Committee, which will make a recommendation on the issue.

COMMENTS