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Enforce The Leash Law, Not The License Law

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Enforce The Leash Law, Not The License Law

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Like every other fine in Chicago, the fine for not licensing a dog has increased -- to $200. City Clerk Susana Mendoza is rewarding dog owners who buy a $5 license by entering their animals in a "Best In Show" contest.

City Clerk Susana Mendoza is kicking off a crackdown on the estimated 470,000 Chicago owners of unlicensed dogs with a contest to name the city’s first-ever search “Dog of Distinction.”

It will start with a 90-day registration campaign, with all dogs licensed by March 31 automatically entered in the doggie pageant. Two days later, five dogs will be randomly chosen to compete for the title. That will be followed by online voting to choose the dog who best exemplifies “Chicago’s spirit.”

Finalists will receive prizes donated by Chicago businesses. The title-winning dog will get the biggest booty, including: a custom-designed dog tag in the shape of the Chicago flag -- with real rubies and topazes -- designed by Goldsmith Jewelers, a weekend stay at the Palmer House Hilton, a photo shoot at Urban Out Sitters and a story in Chicagoland Tails magazine.

The problem isn’t unlicensed dogs. It’s unleashed dogs. Over the weekend, a man was mauled by a pair of stray pit bulls while jogging on Rainbow Beach. The police shot both dogs to death. The victim is in critical condition, but expected to survive.

Two winters ago, I was tripped up by two loose dogs while jogging with my (leashed) dog in Loyola Park. I fell flat on my face, cut my nose, and ran home with blood all over my jacket.

Mendoza suggests the public help enforce the license law by confronting dog owners.

"When you see dogs running on beaches, it’s fair to go up to those individual [owners] and ask if their dogs are licensed," she said. "If not, you’ll be subject to a ticket. People can also call it in like they do with city sticker [scofflaws]."

That's a typical quote from an administration more interested in using the laws to raise revenue than to protect the public. If you see a dog running on the beach, you should ask its owner to put it on a leash. (Prepare for a hostile response. Most dog owners are offended by the suggestion that their dog might be dangerous.) In Chicago, the fines for unleashed dogs run up to $500, but that money is harder to collect. The leash laws have to be enforced by police catching a violator in the act, not neighbors ratting out a scofflaw. From a revenue standpoint, though, there’s more money to be made by enforcing an ordinance that hits every dog owner, not just irresponsible owners who allow their dogs to run wild.  

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