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Calling All Dog Lovers: Do You Know Local Leash Laws?

Bayside police responded to four animal complaint calls last week alone. As you make your way around town with man's best friend, be sure you don't snag a hefty fine for a loose puppy, or worse, a dog bite.

Last week,  responded to four animal complaint calls, ranging from dogs on the beach to dogs running loose through the village. While our furry, four-legged friends love their freedom, it's important to know your local leash laws and avoid a possible hefty fine for a loose puppy, or even worse, a dog bite. 

Toni Stoessl lives near Beach Drive and said there's a steady flow of people letting their dogs run free on the beach, as well as on her property. 

"It’s unsafe and annoying to have dogs running around loose when they shouldn’t be," Stoessl said. "When they run up to you and your dog it’s hard to tell if they’re going to lick you or attack."

Andrew Apple, owner of  is on the board for Residents for Off-Leash Milwaukee Parks (ROMP). He echoed Stoessel's request for following local leash laws. He said while he would like to see more off-leash parks for dogs, it's important to follow those local ordinances because people need to feel safe in both leashed, and off-leash areas.  

"This allows people who are not comfortable with dogs, and people with small children, to have places that they feel safe to enjoy themselves, without being concerned about off-leash pups," Apple said. 

Know the laws

Capt. Scott McConnell with  said dogs must always be leashed in Bayside, unless they are on private property and even then, they must be under the owner's "control." 

"Remember, dogs pound-for-pound are generally three times stronger than your average person," he said. "That is, a 50-pound dog is about as strong as a 150-pound person. Anticipate controlling your pet if confronted by an emergency. One should be able to control their pet with one hand on the leash."

He also said that a short, six-foot leash is a much safer choice than the retractable 20-foot kind because the owner has more control.

Fox Point's village code says dogs may not be on the public beaches adjacent to North Beach Road from June 1 to Sept. 15. Dogs must not necessarily be leashed on the owner's private property, but should be everywhere else, essentially.

Here's a few other tips from Capt. McConnell:

  • Try to remain calm and in control if your pet becomes anxious when confronted. They can sense panic in their handlers, and this sometimes will trigger the natural “fight or flight” behavior.
  • If you feel your pet is becoming anxious with a situation, attempt to remove the animal from the area all the while “praising” them for their positive behavior. Once clear of the situation, stop your pet and praise him or her for positive future reinforcement.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Pets sense, smell and “see” things that we are usually not even aware of. Try not to be surprised.
  • Coyotes are naturally afraid of humans but many times feel threatened by your pet and will approach uncomfortably close. If this happens, try to control your pet and slowly leave the area of the encounter. Do not run. Try to make yourself larger by standing upright and yelling, or make noise to scare the coyote away. Throw stones, carry a noisemaker in your pocket, or carry an umbrella. An umbrella’s sudden “whoosh” upon opening many times is all you need to get some needed separation.

"Prevention is the key with encounters with other pets," McConnell said. "Although you might think your dog will not fight with other dogs, it's a natural reaction for any dog that feels threatened. If dogs begin to fight, remember to never put your hands near any dog's mouth. Try to grab your dog by the tail and/or hind legs in an attempt to 'drag' them out of the fray."

And if you'd prefer to take your pets to a park, we've got a list of some local, dog-friendly places. Just be sure to look closely, because not all are off-leash friendly. 

Location: 1870 E. Fox Ln., Fox Point

This Milwaukee County Park has access to the beach along Lake Michigan as well as many trails. While dogs are welcome here, be sure to keep them leashed both on and off the beach. 

Location: 326 W. Brown Deer Rd., Bayside

Community Bark is a dog-centric shop where dogs and owners can both relax. This business offers Alterra coffee along with both people and puppy treats. 

Estabrook DEA (Dog Exercise Area)

Location: 4400 N. Estabrook Dr., Shorewood

Right on the border between Whitefish Bay and Shorewood, Estabrook's DEA is a three-acre, fenced-in park specifically for letting your pups take a couple laps. There are also seperate areas specially for small dogs. 

Katherine K. Carpenter Dog Park

Location: 801 W. Zedler Ln., Mequon

This unfenced park is in Mequon just off Interestate 43. Dogs are welcomed to be leash-free and the park is full of creeks, woods and fields. 

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