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C&O Canal Reminds the Public that Pets must be Leashed

C&O Canal Reminds the Public that Pets must be Leashed

Hagerstown, MD- The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park reminds visitors that pets must be controlled at all times by means of a physical restraint, leash, cage, or crate. Some visitors have been allowing their pets, dogs in particular, to be off leash while visiting the park. United States Park Police Officers and United States National Park Service Rangers will enforce the applicable "leash law".
"For many dog owners seeing their dog sprint free of restraint is a pleasure, but for park wildlife and other park visitors it can be a very hazardous" Superintendent Kevin Brandt said. The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park has documented two recent cases of visitors being bitten by dogs and one formal complaint about dogs being allowed to run free since the beginning of the year. In the United States 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year.
Here are four reasons to keep your dog on a leash while in a National Park:
Your dog's health: Loose dogs are more likely to be attacked by wild animals that make their home in the park. Foxes and raccoons can carry the rabies virus. Also, dogs are very curious about snakes and they do not know the difference between poisonous and non-poisonous snakes. A curious nose can easily be too close for comfort for a resting snake.
The health of park flora and fauna: While a dog tearing through the woods may seem like a happy thing to humans, for park wildlife it can be a very negative experience. Young deer often freeze if they are scared by a running dog and even your kindest family pet can harass or prey on young deer. Dogs like to chase small animals. In a park, that animal might be a skunk! Loose dogs can also eat treasured or endangered plants and their urine and feces can deter plant growth. Dog excrement can also decrease water quality in small streams.
Public Safety: A dog off leash can harass hikers and other people who may not like dogs or may just want to have a quiet day in the park. Cars and bicyclists will swerve out of the way if a loose dog runs across the road or towpath and this has caused accidents.
Your Wallet: It is illegal to have your pet off of its leash in all Greater Washington National Parks. A "dog off leash" fine is $50.00 in a national park. For additional information regarding the rules and regulations in C & O Canal National Historic Park please call 301-739-4200 or visit our website at

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