Dog owners challenge leash law

For years a group of dog owners in La Cañada Flintridge have walked beside their fluffy companions without leashes on a trail in the city, an action that is unlawful.

Now they are asking the city for a designated off-leash area after a recent complaint from one resident.

Josh Potter said he has been walking his Rhodesian ridgeback in an area of the Cross Town Trail between El Vago Street and Foothill Boulevard for 19 years.

“I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the council and the city to set aside this very small zone for off-leash canine pleasures,” he told the City Council on Monday night.

Potter was joined by several other residents at the City Council meeting. The group has gathered more than 100 signatures for a petition to turn a Southern California Edison-owned portion of the trail into an area where residents can let their dogs roam free.

Residents who support the initiative said that dog owners carefully monitor their pets and they haven’t seen dogs bite anyone or fight with each other. The activity has allowed them to develop friendships and to socialize with other dog owners, they said.

But walking a dog without a leash is prohibited within the city.

“There’s a leash law and it’s there for a reason,” said Caroline Craven, president of the La Cañada Flintridge Trails Council. “For us, it’s keeping the trails safe for everybody.”

After receiving a complaint from a resident regarding walkers who let their dogs roam leash-free, the city asked the Pasadena Humane Society to patrol the area, according to Kevin Chun, the city’s director of administrative services.

Ricky Whitman, spokeswoman for the Pasadena Humane Society, confirmed that the organization increased patrols of the trails about three weeks ago at the city’s request. No citations have been issued, but animal control officers have approached residents to inform them of the law, she added.

The off-leash supporters have claimed that a resident who recently moved near the trail has yelled at dog owners and even hit one animal with a Super Soaker water blaster.

Dale Ball said it was “very disturbing” that residents were suddenly being approached by animal control officers after years of enjoying the area with their dogs responsibly.

While there is no designated off-leash zone along trails in La Cañada, dog owners have other options. An off-leash dog park opened at Crescenta Valley Park last year, the first of its kind in Los Angeles County.

Ball said she visited the 1.5-acre fenced-off dog park, but it’s different from the open area where she enjoys walking with her three dogs in La Cañada, which she described as a wide field.

“We aren’t asking [the city] to turn it into a dog park,” said Ball, who is spearheading the movement with Deborah Pitts and Lisa Novick. “We just want them to leave it as it’s been all these decades.”

The La Cañada Flintridge Parks and Recreation Commission is expected to assess the issue in January.


Follow Tiffany Kelly on Google+ and on Twitter: @LATiffanyKelly.


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