Previously, Tiverton dogs were free to roam, but they were leashed on Monday night. The Tiverton Town Council voted 7-0 on Monday to impose a leash law on dogs and their owners.
In Middletown, it is not only illegal for dogs to be off leash, but they are not allowed on the beach from May 1 through September 30th.
"In today's society I think this is something that we need," said Tiverton's Chief Thomas Blakey.
Tiverton Councilor Jay J. Lambert, an owner of three dogs, called the ordinance "a little broad."
"I think we should remove the language 'at large' [in the ordinance] so it is not anytime that a leash is not held by its owner - it should be any time the dog is not under the control or supervision of its owner or the person being charged with custody," said Lambert.
"There shouldn't be a citation anytime someone drops the leash just to let the dog run around for a few seconds," Lambert added.
"Respectfully, I disagree," said Blakey. "We should have a leash law and the officer should use his discretion - some people may not like dogs at all and can be intimidated by a large dog - friendly or no."
The ordinance will apply to "all dogs roaming at large," but Blakey said officers always use discretion when assessing citations. If owners are not immediately at hand, dogs will be impounded by the town and a fee will be assessed to the owner for the cost of boarding.
Donna Cook, resident, said unleashed dogs were a liability to children and families. She said she often encountered unleashed animals around Weetamoe Woods.
"When I take walks with my grandchildren we often see people with large dogs," said Cook. "The dog takes off toward us and it's not listening to owner, it's running toward us and we're standing there wondering whats going to happen."
Resident Barbara Pelletier, a spokesperson for Tiverton's animal welfare organization, Placing Paws, said the ordinance was a step in the right direction. She urged the town to place more emphasis on responsible pet ownership by enforcing pet registration and vaccination and by imposing a limit per household on dog ownership.
"This leash law thing could be solved with dog park," said Pelletier. "Placing Paws would definitely help pay for financing, dogs could be free, we've put in our good faith by placing around poop stations and doing pickup once per week."
Pelletier said the idea of a dog park in Tiverton had been discussed for years.
After the council passed the ordinance just after 9 p.m., Tiverton's dog owners recreation enthusiasts spoke out - mostly in support for the leash law.
Cindi Page Rapoza (9 p.m.)Too many close calls in Fort Barton while I'm with my children and big doggies come running at them. I want our children safe to run in our back yards and woods. I wish Fort Barton was posted too. So many big dogs on the weekends off leash.
Dawn Valliere-Brayton (9:15 p.m.) Absolutely! Sick of dogs pooping in my yard and bothering my dog who is always leashed!
Jay Frias (9:17 p.m.) I was attacked by a GS walking towards fogland. Owner didn't ask me if I was ok. This dog came from behind me, pushed me and put a hole in my ankle. I can't walk down there anymore in fear it will happen again. That dog wanted to eat me!
Claire Pelletier (9:20) p.m. A lot of those dogs, aren't even registered. Is that still a law in tiverton? Yes, it's 2013, Tiverton needs to get in tune with the times. Our neighbors dog pooped in our yard for years in addition to his aggressive behavior in OUR yard, limiting us to even work in our own garden. Yes, it is way past due.
Jeanne Racine (11:19 p.m.) Yes, and one of the problems is a leash law.. I personally am afraid of dogs and I HATE when ppl don't have their dogs on a leash. It is not fun going for a walk and having a dog approach you.. Or come charging out of their yard.. Why can't people think of those things??
One resident, however did support doggie freedom.
Brenda Nagle (March 26 at 4:02 a.m.) As long as people are responsible about their dogs, it is not necessary. It becomes an issue when people can not control their dogs and unfortunately the latter seems to be the norm.