Proposal seeks to allow leash-free areas in Metro parks - WNEM TV 5

Proposal seeks to allow leash-free areas in Metro parks

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The days of having to keep a dog on its leash in Nashville parks may soon be over. A proposed city ordinance would make it legal for dogs to roam free in certain parks.

Dog owner Pat Owens, and hundreds of residents like him, may be unknowingly breaking current Metro ordinance when he lets his dogs Billy and Gracie run loose at the Edwin Warner Dog Park.

"I mean, on a Saturday or Sunday, you might see 100 dogs out here that are all off their leash," Owens said.

Metro's current leash law requires all animals to be on a leash at all times in all Metro Parks. Councilman Phil Claiborne says the law doesn't make an exception for dog parks.

"Right now, if you bring your dog to a park and let him around, you're violating Metro ordinance," Claiborne said.

Claiborne is one of three lawmakers sponsoring a proposed amendment to the city ordinance that would make it legal for dog owners to do what many already are doing by allowing leash-free areas in certain parks.

However, the wording in the new ordinance could open up a whole new issue.

The proposed ordinance doesn't limit expansion, so Jim Hester - special events director for Metro Parks - said in the future, the park board could decide to make any area in any Metro Park leash-free, such as unfenced walking trails.

Parks Director Tommy Lynch said if the ordinance passes, the park board would have to get leash-free areas approved by the Metro Council.

The leash-free ordinance has already passed its first reading, and the council is expected to hear a second reading at its meeting Tuesday.

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