MARSHALL, Texas (KLTV) - Marshall Police Department is cracking down on leash enforcement for dogs in the city before the new school year begins.
“Our biggest concern is school is about to start; we don’t want any children bitten,” said Cliff Carruth, Marshall police chief. “Last year we had several complaints of dogs chasing children as they were trying to get to the bus or back, so we’re doing all we can to prevent that.”
Animal control officials said there will be an increase in citations to deal with the issue.
“We have seen more [unleashed dog cases] recently. We do get a lot more calls during the school time, because kids are walking,” said Shelly Godwin, supervisor of Marshall Animal Shelter.
Authorities said they want to make sure surrounding neighborhoods are safe for students who will be walking to and from school.
“A lot of [kids] walk to the bus stop, and a lot of them walk to the school, so we just want to keep all the kids safe," Godwin added.
Animal control officials said they will begin visiting with pet owners who do not have their dogs on a leash.
“It’s the leash law; they have to be on a leash. So, if you have an animal, particularly a dog, that’s not on a leash or in the yard then we’ll be issuing citations,” said Carruth. “If we don’t know whose dog it is, we’ll capture it and take it to the shelter. Of course, our goal there is to get it back to it’s owner or if it doesn’t have an owner try to find it a forever home.”
Officers said if they are unable to reach the pet owners, they will take the dogs to the animal shelter, where owners will have to pay a $50 fee for their dog to be released. The fines become progressively worse for owners and animals who are repeat offenders.
“We have a few owner surrenders, we’ll go talk to them,” Godwin explained. “Instead of getting a citation or paying a fine, they do surrender their animals, unfortunately.”
The leash law in Marshall states that animals must be contained at all times, whether it’s behind a fence, on a tether, or on a leash.
Authorities said the point of warning the public about the crack down will help lower the number of loose animals in the city streets, especially during a busy time such as the school year.
School starts for Marshall ISD on Monday, Aug. 26.