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Can man’s best friend be a good neighbor too?

We all love OUR dog, it's those belonging to everyone else ...

The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.” – George Vest

“Back in the day” there was a Kentlands canard that one could not move into the neighborhood without a minimum of at least one Labrador Retriever. Kentlanders have always loved our dogs. They give us unquestioning love in return.

Unfortunately, one person’s devoted companion can easily become another person’s nuisance in oh so many ways.

Used Dog Food

The City of Gaithersburg requires that dog owners “clean up after their pet” and can impose penalties for a failure to do so in accordance with Section 4.4 of the City Code. Despite this clear legal requirement, Used Dog Food (DS) is a constant problem in Kentlands. It appears to go through an annual cycle with compliance at its worst during the dark evenings of winter and at its best when the miscreants who prefer to ignore it are easily observed on summer evenings.

Is the proper handling of dog waste more affected by a concern for the offender’s local reputation than for the increased difficulty of proper handling when the night is dark and cold? The increased number of filled DS bags that are casually thrown into the bushes along the trail or simply abandoned next to it rather than properly disposed of indicates the answer is “yes.” “Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.” – J. C. Watts

The Leash Law

The City also has a leash law: dog owners are required to keep their pet on a leash whenever they are outside a building or fenced in area. This is a rule that has been “honored in the breach” extensively over the years. Back in the day, the vast acreage that was the National Geographic property made breaking this rule seem trivial. Even today, gatherings such as the “Puppy Play Group” treat the leash requirement as either “strictly advisory” or “applicable to other peoples’ dogs.” Owners let their dogs play off-leash the Village Green, in the tree-save island between Leekes Lot and Firehouse Lane, along the path around Inspiration Lake, adjacent to the tennis courts in Lakelands Park, and in other areas within our neighboring two communities.

There are, however, good reasons why dogs are to be restrained at all times. The leash law is important to our neighbors’ well being because we live close together. Children are trusting and excited by dogs, they are quick to approach, and they are the population most at risk of dog bite according to local and national data.

A Dog Park Nearby?

The City of Gaithersburg owns and operates a Dog Exercise Area (DEA) where dogs are allowed to run free in Green Park only about 3.1 miles by car or 2.4 miles by foot from the Clubhouse. It includes about one acre of fenced land separated into two sections with benches, seasonal drinking water stations, and DS bag dispensers.

While there have been informal indications of interest in building a DEA in Kentlands or Lakelands, no actual proposal has been put forward. Such a facility is an unlikely addition to existing neighborhoods where all of the available land has been designated for one purpose or another. The Green Park DEA was built before the townhouses that are near it were constructed and occupied so the “not in my back yard” resistance to the facility that might be expected to be vociferous in Kentlands or Lakelands was not a factor.

Dog Noise

We have in our community a dog with the unusual dual first name of “Shut Up.” Shut Up is a friendly dog who is always anxious to greet everyone who might pass by his home. Not everyone is happy with Shut Up’s enthusiasm.

It is very difficult to keep a dog from barking, but barking, more than any other doggie behavior, infringes on other peoples’ homes because the noise penetrates windows and walls for quite some distance. It can interfere with one’s enjoyment of music or television, with sleep, or the simple pleasure of reading.

Neighborly Consideration

Kentlanders love our dogs and they love us in return. Part of the price of the love we receive is the consideration we owe our neighbors: cleaning up after a dog is the human’s job, the dog has no choice; keeping the dog on a leash is simply obeying the law and protecting vulnerable people from injury; quieting our dog after a few seconds outburst is no more than giving our neighbors the peace and quiet that they deserve.

We earn our neighbors’ respect by respecting them; it is the key to keeping our devoted companions from becoming other peoples’ nuisances.

Additional information is available from Gaithersburg Animal Control at 301-258-6343 or animalcontrol@gaithersburgmd.gov.

 

 

 

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