LAKEWOOD, Ohio– She just wanted to take Boo and Lulu on their daily walk. But for Fay Olson, that walk turned into a brush with the law.
The Lakewood woman was using a retractable leash, the kind she’s used for 20 years.
“I was coming down my driveway and he was already parked, waiting for me. And when I hit the sidewalk, he got out of the van and told me I was being illegal. I haven’t broken a law in 87 years and now I’m illegal,” Olson said.
Last year, Lakewood updated its dog ordinance with guidelines for everything from liability insurance to the type of leash you can use.
Olson said the retractable leash works best for her because her dogs are trained and they respond well to it.
Lakewood city officials declined to comment about the leash part of the ordinance.
Retractable leash bans are already enforced in other places, including San Francisco and California State Parks. Veterinarians also caution the leashes can do harm to dogs.
Cleveland Animal Protective League President Sharon Harvey said she understands why Lakewood and some cities banned them but said it truly comes down to how well an owner has trained their pet.
“Dog owners need to be responsible. They need to be aware of their surroundings. They need to be aware that their dog is properly trained. They need to understand that not every dog is going to like their dog and want their dog running at the end of a leash into their face. It is just thinking ahead, and behaving responsibly and safely,” Harvey said.
Olson said she’s going to continue to fight for her well-trained dogs. She said although the dog warden was kind, she didn’t like being hassled for walking her dogs.
Olson said she has already contacted her councilman and plans to speak to the entire council to see if she can get them to re-evaluate their leash law.