Winchester City Council Takes Aim at Leash Law Violators With New Ordinances

By Benjamin Cox on September 14, 2022 at 11:13am

(photo by Flickr Don DeBold 2013)

The City of Winchester is giving more power to their Animal Control Officer to cite homeowners for unruly animals.

Leigh Winner, Winchester’s Animal Control Officer, came to the City Council last month asking for more authority to cite homeowners if their dogs were off leash, aggressive, or were found relieving themselves in neighboring yards.

Mayor Rex McIntire says the City Council approved two ordinances for Winner to now cite dog owners with city ordinance violations that will be adjudicated in city court.

McIntire says he would like to avoid a most recent situation where a pair of dogs had to be euthanized: “Since I’ve been mayor, we have had 3 or 4 issues over the 9 years where we’ve had dogs that have been aggressive and their owners were really not being responsible in taking care of them. The latest incident was a group of people that owned 4 pit bulls – 3 males and a female. About two months ago, police were called down to there residence. These dogs were used to being together. [With the police call], two of the males almost killed the female. She was in very bad condition when the police officers arrived. The officers were thinking about shooting the dogs. They didn’t know what to do. Finally, the owner got the male dogs off of the female where the officers could get to her. Our animal control officer took her to the vet and she survived. The owners of the dogs wanted to save the younger male. They allowed our animal control officer, Leigh Winner, to take the other two dogs to be euthanized.”

McIntire says those incidents are few. He says the ordinances are more for nuisance animals that are regularly allowed to get off the leash. He says this may also curtail any possible disputes between neighbors: “I know that people get aggravated when the neighbor’s dog comes over and defecates in their yard continuously. It can even make someone’s yard to where they can’t even use it. I know if something like that continues and it’s a neighbor’s dog continuously making a mess yard, there can be some tense times between neighbors when something like that goes unchecked.”

In all the passed ordinances, they will allow Winner to take custody of the animals in question and cite the owners within reason if a violation has been evidently documented or shown. The tickets would then go in front of the city adjudicator for a final determination of a fine.