Wichita police say a pet leash can help avoid tragedy

WICHITA, Kansas - Sunday, a woman died in the icy waters in Wichita. Tuesday, another near tragedy with a woman out on the ice.

Both fell in. Police say both were going after their pets.

"We want to avoid a tragedy," says Wichita Police Lt. Steve Kenney with Wichita Animal Control. "The dogs, being dogs, will go out and play on the ice, and then we have a tragedy."

Kenney also says he wants to remind people, pets on leashes need to be watched closely as well, so they don't get away. Some dog owners agree.

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"Yeah, he's always on a leash," says James Burnett of his dog. "He doesn't go on the water. He knows. But... he'll tear my arm away if i have (the leash) it unlocked and he sees a bird or something. Get a good leash."

Burnett says his leash locks, but his dog still tries to get away.

Todd Hansen says it's the same with his dog, Pepper.

"Well, for one, it keeps Pepper safe," says Hanson about his leash. "But, two, Wichita does have a leash law and some people don't always realize that and some people kind of let their dogs roam free around the park."

In addition to keeping dogs from getting out onto the ice, Wichita police and animal control officers say leashes keep pets from running into traffic, potentially causing other accident. Last year, there were more than 3,000 reports of animals running loose in Wichita.

"We just want to make sure leash laws are followed," says Lt. Kenney. "I hope we can help avoid another tragedy. We've seen a lot this season."

What is the "leash law" in Wichita?

The leash law is a provision in the code of the City of Wichita that prohibits certain domestic animals from roaming free. The leash law (City Code 6.04.040a) states that "Any owner of any animal, other than cats, found running at large within the corporate limits of the city shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor."

Section 6 of the code also defines "running at large" as "any animal that is not confined within a fenced enclosure or shelter or under the control of a person, either by lead, cord, rope, or chain.

What that means is that all animals except cats must be confined by either a leash, rope, chain, fenced area (conventional or electronic), or inside a dwelling 24 hours a day and not allowed to roam free without the benefit of one or more of these types of restraint.

Upon a first conviction, a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $1,000 shall be assessed.

Upon a second conviction a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $1,000 shall be assessed.

Upon a third or subsequent conviction, a fine of not less than $200 nor more than $1,000 shall be assessed and the owner must appear in Municipal Court.

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