In the wake of a May 19 meeting convened by Positively Clintonville to foster more civil exchanges when dogs and their owners come into conflict with others, the local group has issued some ideas and suggestions regarding legal matters and responsibilities.
"It is frustrating when a neighbor's dog barks all day or runs loose or when a neighbor doesn't clean up after their dog," the report from Positively Clintonville's Nancy Kuhel states. "How does one communicate concerns with a neighbor in a productive way? We discussed effective techniques of approaching both from the point of view of the neighbor and the point of view of the dog, both of which are more effective than discussing from one's own point of view.
"For example, in the case of a barking dog, a neighbor might respond positively if he/she is approached with concern instead of complaints or outrage."
The report contained the following frequently asked questions for fans of canines and those not so taken with the animals:
* Can't we just have a set of rules that dog owners should follow?
It would be great if rules were clear, simple and easy to follow. As of now, there is no such set. One rule, however, is clear: All dog owners are responsible for cleaning up after their dog, and this includes in their own yard.
* Why should I have to clean up dog poop since it is natural and biodegradable?
It is an attraction to rats, a concern for our neighborhood, and other pets and children might pick up germs from the ground around it.
* Does Columbus or Clintonville have a leash law?
No. Leash-law attempts have been met with both strong support and strong resistance, so no law has been passed.
* Are owners responsible for their dogs' behavior even without a leash law?
Yes, dog owners must have their dogs under control. However, the interpretation of this requirement is open to debate. Some parks define it as the ability to make the dog come to you and sit quietly when commanded to do so.
* Should I call the police if a dog is barking or otherwise creating a nuisance?
One can call the non-emergency number (614-645-4545) but police are not likely to respond unless there is a physical danger such as a dog attack. Police are simply too busy with criminal activity to respond to non-threatening situations. The Animal Control Office (614-525-3400) is more likely to respond to complaints regarding loose dogs, etc.
* Why can't we just have a dog park where dogs can run free and not be loose in other parts of public space?
While there are some dog parks in the city -- Wheeler Memorial Dog Park, for example -- such parks are not always the solution. First, they must have adequate fencing at least 6 feet high. Second, dogs behave differently and sometimes more aggressively when in packs of three or more. A dog park brings out such "pack" behavior and controlling them may be more difficult in such space. Large dogs and small dogs in the same space might not get along well.
* My dog needs exercise. Why shouldn't it be allowed to run free at times to wear itself out?
While physical exercise is necessary, dog owners can provide this without allowing unsupervised roaming.