Hefty fines for off-leash dogs at Vic Mathias shores

Starting January 25 it will cost dog owners big money if they let their pets roam off-leash in certain areas along Auditorium and Vic Mathias Shores.

The ordinance took effect back in September but park rangers say: not everyone is obeying the law

Sarah Reed takes her dogs Rufus and Abby on a morning at walk Vic Mathias shores. She is on the side designated for "on leash" dogs.

"I notice a lot of people run their dogs off-leash in this area," she said.

The city issued a  warning out for those who disregard the signs. Starting January 25, you could get a fine up to $500.

"I have had my dogs on leash and we've been in an area with off leash dogs and we've been approached or a couple times they've attacked by off leash dogs," Reed said.

Historically the Vic Mathias Shores area has been "off-leash". The city switched the spots back in September, now they will start writing tickets.

"We're having some unsafe interactions with people and dogs and bikes," Leann Ishcomer, park ranger and program manager, said.

"Hundreds, maybe thousands of runners would come through that hike and bike trail creating a conflict," Lt. Robert Hightower, Austin Police Department, said.

Many dog lovers in the park agree with the city, and feel things will be more enjoyable for all.

"Dogs that are off leashes are dangerous," Neal Boren, dog owner, said.

"There are lots of dog lovers in Austin but there are lots of people who are afraid of dogs," Hightower said.

The city says they've given citizens fair warning in the span of four months, now it's their turn to cooperate, or get a ticket.

"There are some people, maybe a small percentage, who maybe just don't want to abide by the rules," Ishcomer said.

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