The Alexandria City Council gave preliminary approval last week to an ordiance that would for the first time require dogs to be leashed when they are taken off their owner's property in the city.
The measure is the outgrowth of a report submitted to the council by a citizen task force earlier this year.
If enacted, it would also make it unlawful to walk female dogs in heat and ban all dogs except seeing eye dogs from school grounds.
Dog owners could be fined up to $100, imprisoned up to 30 days, or both, for violating these provisions or another that would fobid owners from allowing their pets to relieve themselveson private or public property except street curbs and designated dog exercise areas.
The legislation would also require any citizen who observes a dog biting a person to notify the dog warden, the health department or the police and would make it mandatory for every doctor to report the names and addresses of persons treated for dog bites or wounds to either the warden or the health department.
In a memorandum passed out to council members last night, city manager Douglas Harman said he plans to reorganize the Alexandria Animal Shelter to form an animal control division, a new agency under the city's department of transportation and environmental services.
Under Harman's proposal, the animal control division would have two parts - an animal shelter and a dog control bureau. The shelter would be operated by the city in conjunction with the animal welfare league, which manages the city's existing shelter, and would be responsible for picking up and impounding stray dogs, maintaining injured and unwanted animals until owners can be found, and destroying unredeemed rabied or vicious dogs.
The dog control bureau would be responsible basically for enforcing the regulations found in the proposed dog ordinance. Its staff would include a warden, four deputies and two sanitation inspectors from the city's sanitation division who would be trained to become dog wardens.
"Probably no group in the city has more day-to-day contact with dogs than do the city's refuse collecotrs. These persons can identify particular problem areas, and since refuse collection field supervisors have radio-equipped vehicles the patrolling dog wardens can be notified and can respond quickly to the problem," Harman said in his memorandum to the council.