The Cape Charles Town Council discussed the possibility of implementing a leash law in Cape Charles. According to staff, over the last several months there have been verified reports of citizen encounters with dogs off lead and not under the voice command of the owner. These reports and complaints prompted this discussion.
From staff report —The Town of Cape Charles does not have a leash law for domestic canines, or other animals. This spring has seen a number of complaints and Report a Concern postings about dogs running at large. There has been one documented case of a resident and her dog being run up on and confronted by an aggressive domestic canine off leash, off the owner’s property, and not under voice command control of the owner. Another credible report involved a resident continually bringing dogs into the tennis courts, these domestic canines also run free in the area and are not under voice command control by the owner. The town manager has personally witnessed this. Even town staff has been confronted by dogs off leash while performing their job duties.
There were over thirty public comments both public and by letter. The majority seemed to be in favor of some form of leash law.
The consensus among council was that the town did need something, mainly in the Historic District and Mason Avenue, but it needed to be balanced with open spaces where dogs could get exercise off lead. Cela Burge and Tammy Holloway agreed that the current beach plan, allowing dogs to be off lead from 9 PM to 9 AM is working fine and should be left alone.
Mayor Dize noted that the town really needs to have a dog park, and that there is potential land available that could be used for that purpose. Under Mayor Dora Sullivan, the dog park option had been explored; Recreation Director Jen Lewis lead an exploratory committee on a potential dog park. At the time, Lewis was treated shabbily by members of Town Council, and the work was eventually dropped due to lack of interest. Town Manager DiRe said the research is still available and could be revisited.
Council will be moving forward on some form of ordinance, and it could be an action item on the Town Council agenda as early as August or September.
“I think we really do need some form of leash law, but we have to think this through and get it right so that we cover both sides of the issue. And there are two sides,” Andy Buchholz said.