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With more pandemic pets, officials want you to leash up

Published: May. 6, 2021 at 7:59 AM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - South Burlington city officials want you to make sure you’re licensing and registering your pets, but they also want to make sure you are leashing them as well.

The city saw a major surge during the pandemic of families getting pets. So, as the weather gets nicer, they want to make sure everyone in the community can enjoy the outdoors.

“I think some dogs maybe don’t need [a leash],” said Justin Palmer, a dog owner.

Palmer says he does not have that luxury. He describes his dog, Milo, as a bolter, running at anything he sees. So he understands needing to keep Milo in tow. But he also says it doesn’t surprise him to see a dog off-leash.

“I know other dogs just stick with their masters like that,” Palmer said.

“Just be a responsible pet owner,” South Burlington City Clerk Donna Kinville said. “You know what your responsibilities are and you don’t know what anyone else’s feelings are about a dog.”

Kinville says through the pandemic, they have licensed more than 300 new dogs in the city, a major increase from previous years. And with more dogs out, the city is reminding residents to leash up.

“So always be on that perspective of the other person, how can you be a responsible dog owner and keep your dog safe,” said Kinville.

She says you never know whether someone else is comfortable around animals.

“It’s important to keep dogs on leash mainly for your safety, other dogs’ safety and your dog’s safety,” said Erin Alamed, the community outreach and volunteer director of the Humane Society of Chittenden County.

She says like some humans don’t get along, dogs can feel the same way.

So when out, leashing your pet is safest for everyone. If you are exploring new areas, a quick search can go a long way.

“It’s always good to do your research, wherever you are thinking of going, if it’s going to Burlington Parks and Rec website, or Googling the park you are planning on going to, It usually says it pretty clearly,” said Alamed.

She says densely populated areas, like Burlington, often require leashing, but with some research, she says you can find off-leash areas as well.

But Alamed says while it’s great to see shelters clearing and animals going home, it’s important to keep everyone safe.

“The last thing I want or the last thing anyone wants is for their dog to bite or injure or scare other dogs or people,” said Alamed.

Alamed says even if you have the friendliest pet in town, a leash can minimize all risks.

“You know it’s really important. Even though it might be really annoying and your dog might be having a ball off-leash in those leash-lawed areas. It’s really not for your dog, it’s for other dogs out there that are trying to enjoy a nice walk with their owner and they might not be as dog friendly or very dog selective,” said Alamed.

And she along with pet owners say it’s important to think of others when sharing community space.

“When you’re in densely populated areas, it’s probably a good idea to have your dog leashed just so other people without dogs aren’t scared,” said Palmer.

South Burlington, like some other towns, is waiving late fees, so if you just got a dog or missed registration, you can still do it at no extra cost to you.

They say they just want everyone and their pets to stay safe. They say when in doubt, keep your dog leashed.

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