The University Park City Council voted 5 to 2 Monday in favor of an animal control ordinance requiring pet owners to walk dogs on leashes no longer than eight feet and to clean up after them on all public property.
Most of the dozen city residents who spoke at the meeting, however, were pet owners who were against the ordinance.
Ed McGehrin, president of town's Pet Owner's Association, said later that the ordinance "takes the pleasure out of walking and owning a dog."
"It eliminates the possibility of ball- and Frisbee-playing," he said.
"For dog owners," McGehrin said, "it turns University Park into a metropolitan urban area.
"The ordinance goes against the character of University Park."
The new rules are somewhat stricter than Prince George's County law, which requires dog owners to walk their pets on leashes, but of no specific length.
County residents also can file a complaint with the county Animal Control facility if they believe a dog is creating a public nuisance or a health hazard. "It's just easier to enforce something if you have it on your own books," said the sponsor of the new leash law, council member Beverly Mills.
"It's difficult for the city to enforce county provisions; they can be legal and sticky," she said.
"The ordinance is not anything other than what people would do anyway, if they had any consideration for their neighbors."
Mills said that neighboring College Park and Mount Rainier also have ordinances establishing leash lengths.
Mills said she introduced the ordinance because city residents were complaining about dogs defecating on private and public property.
Mills said she surveyed her ward and found that residents approved of the ordinance by a margin of 5 to 1.
The mayor has 15 days to either sign or veto the ordinance.