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Unleashed desires in the state of Maine

Residents of Ogunquit, Maine, voted this month to allow dog owners to let their pets off leash in public areas — as long as those residents can prove to animal control officials that said animals are under voice control.

The change in the dog law was the work of dog owner John Mixon (Go, John!), who gathered enough signatures on petitions to have a rewording┬áin the town’s leash law — one that added the words “or under voice control” — put on the ballot. Voters passed it.

Then, a few days after the election, Mixon was nabbed and charged for having his dogs off their leashes.

Now, things have escalated to the point where Mixon has complained to the Maine Secretary of State that his civil rights have been violated, according to Seacoastonline.

It seems town officials are refusing to honor the change, and debating its wording, saying it — the change, not the leash law — is vague and unenforceable.

Mixon was issued a ticket by Ogunquit Police Department on Nov. 8 for walking his dogs without a leash, despite his claim that they were under voice control.

Town Manager Phil Clark said ensuring that a dog can always be under someone’s voice control is next to impossible. “There are no criteria of what to make the dog do,” he said. “The Animal Control Officer said there’s nothing he can take to certify that he can judge that. You just open yourself up to liability.”

(Photo: Lobster collar and leash from agathaandlouise.com)


Comment from bluhawkk
Time November 21, 2008 at 10:28 am

I assume a 1000′ leash does not run afoul of the law?

Comment from Kaseyisagooddog
Time November 21, 2008 at 11:03 am

My first instinct was to side with this guy. But I’ve seen people at the dog park who would swear they have voice control over their dog when they OBVIOUSLY don’t. I wouldn’t swear it, and Kasey comes to me 99.9% of the time. There should be off leash, fenced areas, but I don’t think the freedom to be off leash everywhere is a great idea. Not in our litigious society.

Comment from Johninogt
Time November 27, 2008 at 3:38 pm

This is so silly. I got a 2nd ticket yesterday for running down the road with my Border Collie (quick) right next to me. What about personal respondsibilty. Nobody is on the beach this time of year anyway. This is really just a power play from town officials. I have been running with my dogs here for 25 years without ever being bothered. Then when you try to legally change the law this is what you get–TICKETS… No dog on or off leash can guarantee 100% of the time to be under control. President Bush’s dig bite someone when he was leashed. This is just political BS, but I’m not giving up!–John Mixon