VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Virginia Beach officials are asking for dog owners to keep their furry companions on leashes in compliance with city code.
Rachel Baker and her 5-month-old German Shepherd, Jake, go to Redwing Park in Virginia Beach almost every day to play at the unleashed dog park.
But Monday, she noticed something different.
"There was just a lady in the Animal Control vehicle and she was just parked right over there just kind of looking around and watching and I was like, 'That’s weird,' because I had never seen them here before," Baker said.
Under the city law, dogs are only allowed off leashes within designated dog parks.
"It shall be unlawful for the owner or custodian of any dog to permit the dog to go upon any city park, public street, sidewalk or right-of-way, excluding the public beaches of the city, unless it is kept firmly secured by a physical leash or lead attached to a collar or harness and under the control of a responsible person capable of physically restraining the dog," reads city code Sec. 5-531.
According to Virginia Beach Animal Control, they will be increasing their presence in city parks and enforcing the city law requiring dogs to be on a leash at all times unless inside a city designated dog park.
"What we’re seeing is an increase in people going to some of the city parks and allowing the dogs to roam off-leash," says Meghan Conti with Virginia Beach Animal Control.
Baker says at Redwing Park, she sees dog off their leashes for short periods of time.
"People will just have them off-leash, just run up to the gate to get into the dog park, but that’s about it," explained Baker.
Animal Control is hoping to crack down on this type of behavior from owners because they say they want to provide a safe environment for all dogs.
"If you have your dog on a physical leash, it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t want to listen to you or not," says Conti.
Conti says owners who break the law could be fined up to $250.
Animal Control says they want to avoid fines, so they're encouraging people to keep their dogs on a leash in parks, neighborhoods and on all city property.
For more on the law, click here.