Stronger Enforcement of Leash Law Expected in Falmouth

FALMOUTH – Falmouth officials have decided to support stronger enforcement of dog-owners complying with the town’s leash law. 

Director of Marine & Environmental Services Gregg Fraser went before the Falmouth Select Board at a recent meeting to give an update on complaints the Animal Services department has been receiving about dogs running at large. 

Fraser said there’s adequate signage in the town to let community members know that dogs must be leashed. He said most people are already aware of the policy but have gotten used to not having to comply. 

“It’s just something that has been going on for a very long time. That’s the response that the animal control officers get often is ‘I’ve been doing this for forty years, why are you trying to enforce it now?’ That kind of situation,” he said. 

Fraser asked the board if they wanted animal control officers to move forward with imposing monetary penalties and more stringent enforcement.  

The board replied that Animal Services had its support in enforcing the laws.

The leash law is in effect year-round. Dogs are also prohibited from public beaches between May 1 and October 1. 

Fraser said a seasonal animal control officer position could be introduced again if the budget passes at Town Meeting this spring. 

Shifts for that role would fall between 3pm – 11pm, since many summertime calls about people not observing the laws come in after lifeguards leave their posts. 

Dog owners are issued a warning the first time they don’t observe the leash law, before being issued a fine for a following offense.

Board member Scott Zylinski worried about animal control officers having to deal with escalating conflicts if residents didn’t want to hand their identification over during a citation.

Fraser said that staff would contact the police department in that situation. He also reminded residents to not confront a dog-owner when they see an animal is off-leash, but rather to call an animal control officer. 

Beach Committee Chair Barbara Schneider advocated for more enforcement of the laws to get residents to comply

“The dog community in Falmouth is quite entitled because of several decades of free walking on Chappy Beach and Beebe Woods,” she said.

Schneider added one of the reasons the Falmouth Dog Park was built to provide a designated place where dogs could be off-leash. 

She also brought up how recent years have seen increased marine mammal strandings on local beaches. Schneider said the safety of dogs and marine animals are both at risk in these events when a dog is off-leash. 

Fraser noted that some dogs have also been running through environmentally-protected areas. 

The board said the town typically receives more complaints about dogs being off leash in the winter. Fraser said that Black Beach in West Falmouth has been a place mentioned in several calls. 

Falmouth recently shared a post on its website to remind residents of the laws governing dogs. 

By Brian Engles, NewsCenter

About Brian Engles

Brian Engles is a longtime local of the Cape. He studied Film & TV at Boston University and in addition to his role at Cape Cod Broadcasting Media, he also works as a music instructor and records original songs.
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