116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Iowa City officials are reminding pet owners to keep their four-legged friends on a leash while outside in light of an uptick in complaints to Animal Control.
The city has responded to nearly 100 more off-leash complaints and routine park patrol calls this year than in 2020. Chris Whitmore, the city’s Animal Control coordinator, told The Gazette there have been 257 calls so far in 2021.
“Most of these (calls) are the routine park patrols since we are getting complaints,” she said. In 2019, there were 135 calls for leash or park patrol, and 156 calls in 2020.
Whitmore said there are two places that have been the focus of recent complaints — soccer fields in the southern part of the city and Hunters Run Park near Highway 218.
“We just wanted to let people know just because your dog does well with you that it’s not good for joggers. It’s not good for other people that have reactive dogs,” Whitmore said.
Cedar Rapids reports a “steady” number of animal at large complaints in comparison with past years. The city has received 832 complaints of animals at large so far in 2021, said Mike Battien, the Cedar Rapids public safety communications specialist.
Iowa City requires all dogs and cats to be restrained by a leash not exceeding 10 feet if they’re not on the owner’s private property. In Cedar Rapids, the city requires animals to be restrained by a leash no more than 6 feet if they’re not on the owner’s private property, according to a city ordinance.
"Leashes allow owners to have control over their dogs, mitigating the potential for animal bites to humans or other animals," Whitmore said. "Many times when contact is made with an owner after an animal bite, they have no idea it happened because the dog wasn’t in their line of sight."
The leash regulation is in effect in all public areas in Iowa City, including parks, sidewalks and trails. Exceptions are the two off-leash dog parks, Thornberry and Rita’s Ranch.
Dog owners wanting to bring their pets to the dog parks need a dog park tag. The yearly fee is $53 for Iowa City residents and $58 for nonresidents, with a $5 discount if the animal is spayed or neutered. Application and rules can be found online at icanimalcenter.org/190/dog-parks.
Pets not on a leash can be mistaken as strays and are at risk of being hit by a vehicle, the city said in a reminder last week. Whitmore said the city typically sends out a reminder in late fall and early spring because that is when the most complaints are received.
The pandemic “hasn’t changed much” in regards to the number of complaints, Whitmore said. She mentioned how complaints dropped in March and April of 2020 but seemed to return to typical numbers in May 2020.
Violating Iowa City’s leash law can result in a $195 fine for the first offense.
Owners found violating the city ordinance in Cedar Rapids can be subject to a $75 fine for the first violation. If another violation is committed within one year, it is $150. There is a $300 fine for additional infractions. Fines are doubled for animals not spayed or neutered.
Comments: (319) 339-3155; firstname.lastname@example.org