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Questions surround dog owner responsibility

Animal control workers emphasize the importance of keeping dogs on leashes

ROANOKE, Va. – There are lingering questions about the responsibility dog owners have for their pets after a man learned this week that he’s facing charges in connection with his dog running loose in downtown Roanoke, which resulted in an attack that injured two people March 29.

Mark Roberts, of Roanoke, faces three misdemeanors totaling $750 in fines, but will not face jail time.

Roanoke city ordinances state that dog owners need to keep their pets on leashes in Roanoke at all times. Roanoke Animal Warden A.W. Hanes said there can be consequences if you don’t follow the law.

"There are so many circumstances that you just can't predict with animals. Why set them up for failure? If you have an incident and the dog is off the property and it bites someone, bites another dog, there are huge charges for that,” she said.

She said the on-the-leash rule is simple.

"That is one of the most crucial things in the city. It doesn't matter if your dog is friendly, it doesn't matter if you've never had an incident, there's always that fluke circumstance, and it's not someone else's job to have to deal with your dog running loose,” she said.

She said making sure dogs exercise and taking time to train them are straight-forward steps to take.

"If you are responsible enough and you think you're ready to get a pet, you need to be able to deal with all this responsibility and the repercussions that come from not caring for your animal,” Hanes said.

There’s a non-emergency Animal Control number, 540-853-2211. You can call if you see a loose animal and it’s not attacking anyone.

Hanes says it's better if people don't get involved when they see a loose animal. Wardens prefer people give them a call and let them handle it.