Visitor questions basis for enforcing leash law

To the Editor:

My wife and I attended Richmond’s Fall Festival last weekend and had a wonderful time. We enjoyed the great weather for the event, the friendliness of the people, the vendors, and the great music. We spent the entire morning and afternoon on the square with our dog, Libby.
I left the square for a couple of hours and returned at 5 p.m. to enjoy the music planned for that evening. I again had Libby with me, on a leash, and was told by a passerby with a dog that the police had turned them away because dogs were not allowed.
I put Libby in my truck and approached several Richmond police officers standing together on the square. I asked them if it was true dogs were not allowed even if they were on a leash. They stated dogs were not allowed per city ordinance.
I told them I did not understand why my wife and I were allowed there all morning and afternoon with our dog as well as numerous other people with their dogs. One officer stated that he was not there in the morning but someone must have “dropped the ball” pertaining to dogs. I did not challenge the situation.
When I returned home I looked up Richmond’s city ordinances on the Internet and could find no law prohibiting leashed dogs in the city. I emailed Donna Griffin, Richmond’s Animal Control Officer, and she cited ordinances pertaining to unleashed dogs but nothing on leashed dogs.
This may seem a trivial matter, but it ruined my experience of your town’s hospitality and causes me to question the integrity of your city government. If for whatever reason the city decided not to have dogs on the square that evening and instructed the police to cite a non-exiting law to bar them, then this is not so trivial.
When police officers are hired, some of their most important qualifications are their honesty and ethics, and integrity. Hopefully their superiors do not ask them lie and enforce laws that do not exist. This is a defense attorney’s dream in court when they can show the city’s police officers will lie, especially at the behest of their supervisors.
When an officer’s integrity can be challenged it will be. Perhaps the officer I addressed was only mistaken about the existence of such an ordinance, but I find it hard to believe the other three officers listening to us were mistaken as well.
I am not writing this to get the officer reprimanded, I will not identify him. I just do not think this is the type of hospitality Richmond should extend to its guests. I am forwarding copies of this letter to the Chief of Police and the Richmond News. Thank you listening.

– Sincerely, Dennis H. Cooper

Editor’s Note: Mr. Cooper is a retired police officer in Shell Knob, Mo.

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