May 5, 2009 – Hour 2

Last month, animal control officers in Baltimore City began issuing  $1000 citations to dog owners who had their dogs outside without a leash. A City Council Bill aims to reduce the fine, but dog owners point to a lack of dog parks as a serious problem.  We talk about the concerns of Baltimore City dog owners. This segments panel included:

Last month, animal control officers in Baltimore City began issuing  $1000 citations to dog owners who had their dogs outside without a leash. A City Council Bill aims to reduce the fine, but dog owners point to a lack of dog parks as a serious problem.  We talk about the concerns of Baltimore City dog owners.

This segments panel included:

  • Councilman William Cole, representative of Baltimore’s 11th District, who is co-sponsoring the legislation that would reduce the fine for having dogs off leash and create off-leash hours in Baltimore Parks.
  • Mary Porter, representing Baltimore’s Department of Recreation and Parks
  • Judith Kunst, dog owner and organizer
  • Robert Joyce, an attorney who has offered to be the pro bono representation of any dog owner who receives a $1000 fine


To view and sign the leash law petition mentioned in the program, please click here.


Written by Marc Steiner

Marc Steiner

The Marc Steiner Show currently airs on The Real News Network. The show covers the topics that matter, engaging real voices, from Charm City to Cairo and beyond. Email us to share your comments with us.


  1. Lisa says:

    Most people who have already signed the “” petition [type in “Leash Law” or click the SteinerShow link] appear to own dogs, though even those without canines have signed. A quick read shows that many people are angry about the current fine structure, especially with SO few options within city limits to exercise dogs off-leash.

    The hope is that City Councilors will partner with Parks and Recreation to designate NEIGHBORHOOD-AUTHORIZED off-leash sites with specific hours, responding to each community’s input. Although fenced-areas should be kept as an option, they are expensive to build and take a huge amount of time to authorize and build.

    Some parks are not appropriate for off-leash dogs, and each neighborhood is capable of making that decision by consensus.

    Thus, many petitioners have recommended designating off-leash areas in public green spaces…a “win-win” proposed solution would provide specific places for people to exercise their off-leash dogs (with appropriate signage designating where they can and can’t be), while those people—perhaps with small dogs or children or simply those not wanting to be near ANY off-leash canines would know how to avoid designated “off-leash zones”.

    This isn’t anything new. New York City (obviously far larger a metropolis than Baltimore) has practiced this “Off-leash” zoning for years with great civic success. Adiran Benepe, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation has written, “Over the past twenty years, this policy has kept parks and neighborhoods safer, allowed owners to exercise and socialize their dogs, and reduced the number of dog bites.”

    The great thing about this new “leash-law” is that it may force our city to create a more enjoyable environment where two and four legged citizens can exercise and enjoy specific areas of our parklands in the same way that children’s sports teams, runners, tennis players and others have for generations.

    Please encourage listeners who support the reduction of fines and hope the City Council will designate “off-leash” areas to sign the petition before the Tuesday, April 12 meeting.

  2. Mike from East Baltimore says:

    I have been trying to work with the city for a dog park in East Baltimore since 2001. The PArk’s Department released guidelines about 5 years ago which are now “outdated.” The city recently revised their guidelines for a dog park (since the outburst of this legislation). So now after almost 10 years we are back at square one.
    In 2003, we formed a dog park group consisting of park users from neighborhoods surrounding Patterson Park. We conducted surveys, held public forums and even got the Neighborhood Design Center to help us plan (the recieved an award for their efforts btw). We recieved letters of approval from all the neighborhood associations. As your guest from the city stated–we need to make partnerships, well we tried working with the city to no avail. The Parks Department even told us they havent even looked at our application; the friends group trumps our eforts! The main obstacles we met were changing positions in the Parks Department, city council (redistricting), mayors and directors of friends group “representing” the park(who by the way NOW do not support a dog park in Patterson Park). Each time a position changed we seemed to go back 5 steps. As of this date no park nor commitment from the city despite our efforts to follow the guidelines and demonstrate overwhelming support for a park in Patterson Park (not only by letters of approval from Neighborhood Associations but a Patterson Park survey showing 2/3 majority support for a dog park). We were asking for an area in Patterson park that has been (and still is) unused for the 10 years we have been doing this. 1 acre out of 135 acres in the park. As far I am concerned, dog owners are primary users of the park. We are there everyday 365 days a year and we well deserve a pace especially if we in good faith have been following city guidelines. New York City has 88 off leash parks, we can’t even get more than 1. The whole process has left us disheartened with the way this city works.

  3. Mike from Patterson Park says:

    Thank you or allowing me to speak on your show. It is disheartening to see your guest not even address my comment: We have had partnerships with the surrounding neighborhoods, we involved urban planners and landscape archetects thru the NDC, the city is the one who does not want a partnership; as your guest demonstrated. Patterson Park is only complicated in the fact that it doesn’t serve the constituents surrounding the park. Dogs running thru concert goers? Please get back to my comment–I was commenting on an effort to get a fenced in dog park; we even agreed in our application to the city to fund the construction. I wish you would have allowed some follow up.

  4. revykev says:

    Hello Mr. Steiner. I first want to thank you for the great job you are doing.
    I am a little off subject, but what about cats. I know they do not seem as though they are a promblem but my wife is alergic to them. We have a nieghbor who lets her cats out everyday. The cats are on my doorstep around my car. Once one got in my house while I was moving things. Now ill get a fine and maybe arrested if I do something to those cats, yet it is my wife or those animals. We know wich one I’m going to pick. (No leach law for cats?)
    Also I live in Aberdeen MD. For some reason people in my neighborhood like to use my yard as a place for their dogs to relieve themselve. Even though the assosiation tells them not too they still do. If you have an animal one must take care of it. Maybe it is not wise to have a dog in the city.
    Peace & Blessings

  5. Taro Adachi says:

    I have a large and active dog, so I would welcome the opportunity to have off-leash designated play areas and/or
    off-leash hours. The current problem with the $1,000 fine
    is that it is relatively high compared to other offenses.

    I clean up after my dog, both on the street when walking leashed as well as in open spaces where she might play off leash with other dogs. It angers most of the “regular” dog community to see poop on our streets or park areas, but these are infractions by owners who ignore pick up when they are unobserved (so immune to fines anyway).

    I also consider it the responsibility of dog owners to train their dogs so that they are reasonably social with both other dogs and people. We all want our dogs and kids to feel safe when enjoying the outdoors.

  6. Anonymous says:

    where and how do i get some one fined for unleashed dog? this person turned her back to me and said o well when her dog continued scratching at my legs while i carried in my baby in her car seat and still continues to do so ,although now she brings him in w/o cleaning after him “”so he wont attack me again”” my 4 other kids keep ending up in it. please help me to make her see she needs to do these things..

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