City Council votes to lower leash law fine

Baltimore’s City Council tonight approved lowering the fine for leash law violations from $1,000 to $200 for a first offense.

Subsequent offenses would carry fines of $400 and $600.

A city council committee recommended the changes after a hearing held last week.

The council also voted to lower the fine for failing to clean up dog waste from $1,000 to $200.

Councilman James Kraft said he would try to get Mayor Sheila Dixon to sign the legislation tomorrow.

The higher penalties went into effect in February. Though they were approved by the city council, several members say they voted for them inadvertently while approvingĀ broad changes in the city’s dog law.

Complaints about the higher fines surfaced after animal control officers began handing out $1,000 citations in March. At least 35 were issued, but city officials say those citations will revert to the lower fine.

The council also approved giving the Recreation and Parks Department authority to designate leash-free areas and hours at city parks.

John Woestendiek

John Woestendiek is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of "Dog, Inc.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man's Best Friend."