April 25, 2018
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Bangor to explore adopting leash laws

By Eric Russell, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The city plans to take a closer look at adopting pet leash laws in the wake of a recent trail use survey that suggested many Bangor residents want changes.

Bangor Parks and Recreation Director Tracy Willette briefed members of the City Council’s government operations committee Tuesday about preliminary discussions by the city’s parks and recreation advisory board and then asked councilors for further direction. The biggest issue, he said, is whether Bangor should require visitors to some or all of its many trails and parks to keep their dogs and other pets on leashes. The city now has no leash laws.

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“This is something that is going to generate significant discussion,” Willette said. “There are a lot of folks who have definitive opinions on one side or the other.”

Councilor Susan Hawes said it was certainly worth taking a closer look at a stricter policy based on the number of incidents reported on city trails. Many pet owners have expressed concerns about aggressive dogs and owners’ lack of control over those dogs.

A parallel discussion also is being held about creating a designated dog park in the city, something that might help alleviate concerns about unleashed dogs on trails. A group called Bangor Area Regional K-9s, or BARK, met for the first time last month to establish a steering committee to explore the demand for a dog park.

Councilor Geoff Gratwick agreed with Willette’s assessment that any proposed changes would generate a lot of public feedback. He said he would be in favor of implementing something on a trial basis, studying whether it works or not, and then making adjustments accordingly.

One of the foreseeable problems, according to City Manager Ed Barrett, is enforcement.

“Enforcement of ordinances like this is always difficult,” he said. “The notion of trying something, or designating certain areas where leashes should be used, is probably appropriate. We can give people options.”

With direction from the City Council, Willette plans to report to the parks and recreation advisory board to discuss the idea further and draft any ordinance changes. Any ordinance changes would then go to the City Council, likely in the form of a workshop and public hearing, before any vote is taken.



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