Dogs are leaving messes in yards in the southwest part of town while the dogs’ owners brazenly watch it happen, according to a few area residents who attended July’s borough council meeting.
The residents came to the meeting hoping that their story might persuade council to enact some type of law that would keep dogs on a short leash out of neighborhood yards.
Borough solicitor Thomas McDermott suggested a different solution—lawsuits.
“When you have a property dispute with a neighbor… if they’re doing stuff in your yard,” he said, “That’s a trespass, and what folks do is they sue each other. They get a lawyer. Or you don’t need a lawyer, you can go to the magistrate and file a civil claim against them for trespassing in your yard.”
“The government is not the one who has the power over every dispute,” McDermott said.
Bridgeville’s borough code doesn’t specifically require dogs to be on leashes, nor does it address the issue of dog waste—solid or liquid—left on people’s yards and sidewalks. But in recent years, McDermott said, some communities have tried to address those problems with pet ordinance “enhancements.”
“Our old school ordinance probably didn’t have them because you didn’t need them” the solicitor said. “Apparently, you need them [now] and they’re becoming en vogue.”
The upside of Bridgeville enacting such laws would be the establishment of a clear legal requirement to keep a dog leashed and clean up after it. And clear legal penalties for violation.
One downside is that an already busy police department might spent a lot of time responding to calls about dogs urinating in people’s yards.
There there are tangential questions such as—how long of a leash should be permitted? Is a dog on 20-feet retractable cord “leashed” the same way as a dog on a simple 5-feet tether?
It was unclear which, if any, Bridgeville councilman, might be interested in pursuing stricter dog laws. In the meantime, you can always file a civil suit.