QUESTION: Our CC&Rs require that dogs be placed on a leash. A few owners allow their dogs to run unleashed in the common areas. The dog people have petitioned the board to interpret "leash" to mean voice command or an "e-leash or collar." This issue is taking a lot of board time and has created a division between owners in the community.
ANSWER: I doubt that voice commands and electronic leashes were contemplated when the leash restriction was originally enacted. The board has a duty to either reasonably enforce the existing CC&Rs or properly amend them.
Potential Liability. If the CC&Rs are not enforced and someone is injured by a loose dog, the association (and the board) would likely be sued. It might be that voice commands and electronic leashes are effective alternatives to traditional leashes. However, this is a matter that should be debated and voted on by the membership. If the leash requirement is in the Rules rather than the CC&Rs, the board should send a proposed rule change to the membership and allow at least thirty days of feedback before changing the rule.
Animal Control Agencies. Boards should also take into consideration that County and Municipal leash ordinances generally require physical restraint with leashes no longer than six feet. It is unlikely they would agree that dogs under voice command or e-leashes meet their requirements.
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