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Oriental Dog Leash Law?
A village tradition is threatened
February 1, 2005

or as long as many people can remember, dogs have run free in Oriental. In reality, they’re not always running. They lope along. They saunter. They poke about. They greet tourists and local residents alike. They’ve even shown up – uninvited – at outdoor weddings. Dogs are, in effect, part of the laid-back fabric of town.

Some even call Oriental, “Dogtown”. A few years back, local artist Emmy Casey captured that spirit in her painting of a half dozen of Oriental’s more famous dogs lined up across Hodges Street. More recently, resident Mary Duffie has created a small cottage industry with her homemade dog biscuits that folks buy — a la a petting zoo – to feed local dogs.

Emmy Casey’s “Oriental Dogs” painting

The relaxed approach toward dogs has been a part of what’s made Oriental Oriental. Running dogs, ostracized in other places, make for a more civilized atmosphere here. The dogs have helped keep our pace slow.

All of this could be changing. Tonight the Oriental town board talks about whether to require that dogs be on leashes. Item 9 on the agenda reads: “Leash Law – Tina Dykins is requesting the Board to consider a dog leash ordinance.”

The issue’s been brewing in Oriental for a few weeks. It began in mid-January when a petition appeared at the Post Office calling for a leash law. It garnered a few signatures.. and prompted a counter-petition by those opposed to a leash law.

While the humans debate the merits and downsides of a leash law — will it make the streets safer? Will it make owners clean up after their dogs? — we sought the opinions of two Oriental residents who would be most directly affected.

TownDock.net: So, what do you think about a leash law?

Ceilidh: Well, before I answer anything, you have to shake my paw.

Oriental Dog Citizen
Ceilidh Smith

TownDock.net: Okay. Good dog. Now … about this leash law….

Ceilidh: I for one don’t mind going for occasional walks on a leash. But I also like running free and keeping the rabbits on edge. Haven’t caught one yet, though.

Shadow: (breaks in) But here’s something that I’ve been pondering: who’s going to enforce this?

Ceilidh: Yeah! What she said. Can I have a Miss Mary Biscuit?

Shadow: We don’t even have a police chief to keep track of all the things that humans are doing!

Ceilidh: (Munching) And doesn’t the town have enough going on right now without worrying about a few of us roaming free? Yeesh. I need a drink. Is there anything stronger than water in that bowl?

Oriental Dog Citizen Shadow Everest

Shadow: Couldn’t they just make it so that if there was a mean dog or a dog that bit someone that you could call Animal Control and they’d come and get that dog and have a talking with the owner? Wouldn’t that work well? I mean, no one likes a mean dog.

Ceilidh: Yeah, but I hear that another reason behind this push for a leash law is that some folks think it will make the place cleaner. That, y’know, the owners would pick up their poop. The dog poop, I mean. Wanna biscuit??

Shadow: Thanks. (brief munching as Shadow inhales biscuit) Y’know…. what you were saying about cleaning up? Can we think about this logically for a minute? Just because the humans hold us by a leash doesn’t mean they’ll stoop to scoop the poop, does it?

Ceilidh: (Mock groaning at the rhyme) Yep. Right again, sister.

A pause as Ceilidh greets a human who stops to take her paw. The human moves on. The conversation continues.

Ceilidh: Y’’know what I’m thinking, Shadow?

Shadow: You’re thinking? I thought you just ate biscuits and offered your paw to any passerby.

Ceilidh: Yeah. I’m thinking. I’m thinking about the cats. Like, if this town says us dogs have to be on leashes, then it should say the same for all the cats running loose. Who do you think kills all those birds? It ain’t us.

Shadow: (chortles) And I’m sorry, but if you think dog waste smells.. what about the cats’???.. PHEW! But have you EVER seen a cat on a leash?

Ceilidh: Well, if us dogs have to be on leashes, then put the cats on ‘em too.

Shadow: Y’know, I’d like to see that. Bet it’s kinda weird looking, a cat on a leash Like a fish out of water. But it’s only fair.

Ceilidh: Which isn’t the same as being smart cos I don’t think a dog leash law is. But it would be fair to put cats on the leash too.

Shadow: And y’know, I’d like to see the town enforce THAT!

Ceilidh: Wanna go on patrol?

Shadow: Sure. At least while we can.

Editors note: We recognize that vicious dogs can be a problem. There already are laws on the books that can be used to deal with vicious dogs and their owners, without enacting any new laws that affect Oriental’s friendly dogs. Click here to read Oriental’s existing ordinance on animals.

Posted Tuesday February 1, 2005 by Keith N. Smith

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