Leash laws putting some 'in the dog house'

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Leash laws -- they're there for everyone's protection.

No matter how friendly your dog is, sometimes their instincts get the better of them, and they can end up hurting someone else or another dog.

That's exactly what happened to one local man and his best little buddy Trigger.

"Spin. Spin. Good boy," North Augusta dog owner Bill Hodges instructed.

Trigger's happy to be doing tricks, but Hodges is still remembering the dog bite that left his best friend with five staples.

"There was only one bite, but if he wouldn't have stopped, I don't know what would have happened," Hodges said.

The bite came after a fight that started because a neighborhood dog was off the leash in Hodge's yard when he let Trigger out the front door.

Now, he says he has a special system so Trigger is always hooked up.

"We'll do the hookup, make sure it's secure, and then we'll open the door. And a 100 percent hookup," said Hodges as he went through the steps.

While most people know they can't take their dogs on a walk without a leash, law in North Augusta is stricter than most.

"Dogs are required to be on a restraint at all times, even on their own premises," said Public Safety Animal Control Officer Michael Strauss.

Not following the law could be costly.

"Amount of a $158.75 is our minimum fine for a dog without restraint, [the maximum] $1,080," he said.

In Trigger's case, it cost him five stitches, and it cost the neighbor a vet bill.

But the punishment could have been worse.

"The officer told me, he said, you know this is an arrestable offense. You know that, right? If you press charges, and I was like really? I don't want her to go to jail," Hodges said.

Hodges says this all could have been prevented if the other dog had been on a leash.

"It wouldn't have been an issue at all. There wouldn't have been any vet bills or animal control or anything," he said.

Hodges says he and his neighbor are still on good terms, and now they're even sharing ideas on how to keep their dogs hooked up.

Leash laws in Richmond and Columbia counties are slightly different.

Dogs do still have to be on a leash when they're on the public street, but in those counties, they can be on your property without a leash.

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