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Reitan: Responsibility of pet owners include leashing, clean up

On a regular basis the West Fargo Police Department answers complaints of a dog or a cat being allowed to run free in a neighborhood to defecate on someone else's property. To allow the animal to roam free is disrespectful of other people's property; it places the pet in danger of being injured or killed; and it is against the City of West Fargo ordinances.

11-0201. Animals Running At Large Prohibited. No person who is the owner or keeper of any animal shall allow any animal to run at large in the City.

To run at large is defined as follows:

11-0101. Definitions.

2. "At large" means off the premises of the owner and not under the control of the owner or some member of his immediate family or other authorized person either by leash, cord, or chain.

The issue of an animal leaving waste on the property of another can result in a pet owner being charged into West Fargo Municipal Court.

11-0109. Collection of Animal Solid Waste on Public Property.Every person having custody or control of an animal shall be equipped to, and shall collect, said animal's solid waste when eliminated on property owned by the City of West Fargo, the West Fargo Park District or the West Fargo School District. Any person who wishes to make a complaint regarding violations of this section must appear before the Judge of the Municipal Court and sign a complaint.

While the ordinance speaks to waste left uncollected from public property, waste left on private property creates a health threat to others and can cause tensions to develop between neighbors. Not allowing your pet to run at large and cleaning up after your pet displays responsible pet owner behavior.

The same unsanitary health conditions can develop on your own property if you fail to collect animal waste. You can also be charged into Municipal Court.

11-0304. Animal Nuisances. The following conditions are hereby declared to be nuisances within the meaning of this title, and no person having ownership or custody of any animal described herein shall:

5. Allow the accumulation of excrement or other waste materials from an animal which result in foul or noxious odors that are offensive to surrounding residents.

Being a pet owner carries many responsibilities to properly care for the animal. It also carries a responsibility to your neighborhood for you to maintain a sanitary environment for all to enjoy.

Mike Reitan is West Fargo's assistant police chief