Leash laws to be enforced throughout King County parks and trails

For the next few weeks, off-duty deputies from the King County Sheriff's Office will be patrolling several parks and trails in the area to provide patrons with information about leash laws and other rules intended to keep everyone safe.

For the next few weeks, off-duty deputies from the King County Sheriff’s Office will be patrolling several parks and trails in the area to provide patrons with information about leash laws and other rules intended to keep everyone safe.

Doug Williams, spokesperson for the county’s Department of Natural Resources and Parks, said the deputies, who are contracted by his department, are not targeting a particular area and they will be visiting parks and trails throughout the county. He said they want to be able to reach the most people possible and patrols will be primarily on the weekends.

“The goal isn’t to write a bunch of tickets,” Williams said, adding that the county has done these types of extra patrols in the past, though it has been a couple of years. “It was just time to do it again.”

He said the goal is to just remind people about these laws that already exist.


Williams said the law is that all dogs must remain on a leash at all times except in designated areas. One of those areas — the only area within King County’s 28,000 acres of parks and open space — is the 40-acre off-leash dog park within Marymoor Park.

“It’s a safety issue,” Williams said.

He said there has been a recent uptick in reports by park and trail visitors about potentially dangerous situations such as dog fights involving one or more off-leash dogs. Williams added that they haven’t had any cases lately in which a dog has attacked a human, but they have had them in the past. He said if a human is hurt, it has usually been the result of them trying to break up a dog fight.

In the last year, the Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC), received a total of 212 animal bite reports. Of those, 178 were from dogs, 33 were from cats and one was from a squirrel. Pit bulls, pit bull mixes and American bulldogs were involved in 36 of the 212 incidents. German shepherd dogs and German shepherd dogs mixes were involved in 14 reported incidents. Rottweilers and Rottweiler mixes were involved in six reported incidents. Labradors and lab mixes were involved in 28 reported incidents.

These and other violations of the county’s “code of conduct” has created the need for an education and awareness campaign — and possibly big fines for flagrant offenders.

A violation of the leash law can result in a monetary fine of up to $500.

“King County’s parks and trails are valuable assets that link communities and enhance our region’s tremendous quality of life,” said Washington Trails Association (WTA) Executive Director Karen Daubert in a King County press release. “By following a few basic rules, visitors are ensuring that these wonderful places can be enjoyed by all.”


Kindra Ramos, communication and outreach director for WTA, said their nonprofit organization is partnering with King County to help spread the word about the leash-law enforcement.

As Williams said, Ramos keeping dogs on their leashes while hiking the area’s trails is a safety concern and courtesy. She said other hikers may not be comfortable with off-leash dogs and even a small to medium-sized off-leash dog could be pretty scary for small children.

The leash laws are also for the dogs’ safety, Ramos said. She said while out on the trails, a dog could get distracted by the wildlife in the area and take off away from its owner.

In addition to spreading the word about the leash-law enforcement occurring in King County, Ramos said WTA also offers tips on their websites on how people can hike safely with their dogs. Some of those tips include making sure to provide dog with its own water source and bowl, carrying plastic bags to clean up after them, practicing on-leash skills and commands ahead of time and putting booties on your dogs paws if you plan to hike in a tougher terrain.


Janessa Rosick, public information coordinator for the Redmond Police Department (RPD), said police don’t typically respond to animal control-related calls unless a situation becomes extreme such as a severe dog bite or an assault on a RASKC officer.

“Should RPD respond to a dangerous situation involving a dog, King County dispatch will be notified by Redmond police and they will have (RASKC) respond to the scene,” she said.

Cameron Satterfield, communications manager for RASKC, said when they receive a call or complaint regarding a vicious dog, they will send out an officer to assess the situation, take a look at the dog that was bitten — or if a human was bitten, speak with them.

Depending on the severity of the bite, Satterfield said a dog owner can receive civil penalties, monetary fines ranging from a few hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars. He said a case may also be turned over to the prosecuting attorney’s office and criminal charges can be brought upon the dog owner. Those could be cases in which the suspect dog is a repeat offender, the animal that was attacked was actually killed or if the dog had bitten a human.

Satterfield said they can also issue a notice of removal, meaning the animal can no longer be kept within RASKC’s jurisdiction — 25 cities including Redmond, as well as unincorporated King County. He said this could happen when a dog is determined to be vicious.

In very rare cases, Satterfield said, a dog may be put down. He said this would only happen after the dog was put through a behavioral testing process and was determined to be particularly vicious and then it would be humanely euthanized.


Satterfield said it is important for people to be responsible pet owners and to keep their dogs leashed or fenced if they know their dog has a propensity toward aggression.

“No matter the size of the dog, any dog can bite,” he said. “There’s always that potential.”

Satterfield added that this is particularly important to remember with spring just around the corner and more people will be out and about in parks and along trails.

He said it is also important for people to license their pets.