Think Again! with Gaynelle Evans View All Posts

Gaynelle Evans photo

About Think Again! with Gaynelle Evans

Gaynelle Evans is a freelance writer and television producer in Montgomery County.Today, she’s like other baby boomer residents who are semi-retired and who are working to reinvent themselves in ways thatfulfill dreams and pay the bills. A former reporter for Gannett News Service and USA Today and executive producer for... Read more

Discover Other Local Blogs

We have a great number of amazing blog posts contributed by our local bloggers. Discover what is happening in your neighborhood by reading their latest posts.

Unleashed and At Large.

Short ones. Tall ones. Big ones. Small ones. There are a lot of dogs in my neighborhood. If you live in America, you probably have a canine or two as neighbors too.


We Americans share our homes with more than 78 million dogs, according to the American Pet Products Association 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey. And those are the dogs with owners. More than half of us (60%) had one dog; a quarter of those owners (28%) had two. As for feral dogs and others without homes, the ASPCA says it’s impossible to know how many are at large.


We love our dogs. In my neighborhood, it’s not unusual to see one of the many owners walking with leashed pets at almost any time of day. Differences between them are notable. For some, the walk looks to be a leisurely stroll with the dog ambling along at the owner’s side. Others stride along purposefully, as if they know precisely where they are going. I envy them.


She might look innocent, but...

She might look innocent, but…

My dog Macy yanks me hither and yon. She’s a 10-pound Yorkie/Silky mix who has to smell every bush and mark each yard, flower and blade of grass that dares catch her attention. Squirrels and birds are another story. When she sees what might seem to be easy prey, the walk becomes a test of will, as in how fast will Gaynelle run before she passes out, or yells in frustration.


I imagine how relaxing it must be to walk through the neighborhood, letting your dog run without a leash, exploring and sniffing, running freely while you peruse a newspaper or chat on the phone. It sounds idyllic and would be great, if it were legal in Montgomery County. But it’s not.


On letting a dog run free or be “at large” in the neighborhood, Montgomery County Animal Control Laws are quite clear. “Any dog is at large if it is outside the owner’s premises and not leashed, unless it is a service dog, is in a dog exercise area designated by the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, or it is participating in an approved activity.”


The fine for a first offense is $100 and it increases to $500 for subsequent violations.


As loveable as I think my dog is, I know from dog bites experienced as a child that one should always be cautious about strange canines. Bites aside, some people just don’t like dogs. Fear is another factor. A good friend and neighbor of mine will change her route to avoid passing a cat. And dogs? When we were approached one summer morning by a tail wagging, strange and leash-less dog, my friend almost climbed up my back to get away.


Macy’s lucky. She has a fenced-in back yard to run around in. Our walks are my way of providing exercise, variety and encouragement for her to clear her intestines by the clock. I understand that all dogs don’t have their own fenced-in playgrounds.


Several times a week, Macy and I cross paths with another neighbor who regularly walks his dog without a leash. The dog is cute and friendly enough, but the encounters are what got me to thinking about the legalities of it all. This neighbor also walks his dog with no apparent apparatus for picking up poop. On that subject, the county’s fine is $100 if the offending offal is not immediately removed.


Unlike the dog “at large’ law, there’s no escalation of fines for subsequent offences. Perhaps the lawmakers felt that no one would pay $100 to avoid scooping poop more than once.


You can find a summary of the Montgomery County Animal Control Laws at:

Like this post? Sign up for our Daily Update here.

About Evans

Gaynelle Evans is the Executive Producer at Montgomery Community Media.


13 Responses to “Unleashed and At Large.”

  1. Avatar
    On March 8, 2013 at 3:56 pm responded with... #

    Wow, you are the coolest!

    • Avatar
      On March 9, 2013 at 7:04 am responded with... #

      Thanks Jakki. Do you own a dog?

  2. Avatar
    On March 8, 2013 at 4:40 pm responded with... #

    Sounds just like my neighborhood- you ALMOST made me think about getting a pooch, now that’s some great writing! 🙂

    • Avatar
      On March 9, 2013 at 7:06 am responded with... #

      Well, there’s no time like the present…

  3. Avatar
    On March 11, 2013 at 11:26 am responded with... #

    Great writing….I’m not an animal lover(I have allergies to animal). Your Macy is one of the cute ones! Yes, I will everyone everywhere would pick up
    Their dog poop.

    • Evans
      On March 11, 2013 at 12:30 pm responded with... #

      Thanks for writing Gerry. I know that animals aren’t for everyone. Macy thanks you too!

  4. Avatar
    On March 14, 2013 at 3:38 pm responded with... #

    I have learned so much from dog trainer, Jason Ellis , who works in the DC Metro area. Anyone THINKING about a dog should consult a knowledgeable “dog person”!!

    • Evans
      On March 15, 2013 at 11:11 am responded with... #

      Thanks Susan. No doubt too many people get dogs without researching anything about them. Good advice!

  5. Avatar
    On March 14, 2013 at 4:00 pm responded with... #

    This just makes me long for a dog more–we got turned down recently for an adoption after an initial yes. The foster mother decided after 8 months, she wanted to keep the dog:( You’ve prompted me to look up PG County laws on the subject–thanks so much, Gaynelle!

    • Avatar
      On March 14, 2013 at 9:58 pm responded with... #

      I enjoyed reading this and wish everyone was so thoughtful and knowledgeable! I appreciate you showing that everyone may not love your dog like you do! I must say your dog is very cute! Looking forward to more insightful writings from you!

      • Evans
        On March 15, 2013 at 11:13 am responded with... #

        The universe has a way of working things out for the best. From the way you sound, I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t another doggie in your future.

      • Evans
        On March 15, 2013 at 11:14 am responded with... #

        Thanks Tijuan. I’m having fun writing the blog.

  6. Avatar
    On March 15, 2013 at 12:29 pm responded with... #

    love it!

Engage us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter