Politics & Government

City Hall tries to hire a goose-chasing dog, learns its police dogs violate leash law

Wichita City Hall is considering renting a dog to chase geese from its golf courses, seeking to reduce the amount of poop that players have to step in, the park and recreation director said Monday.

And the search for a good goose-chasing dog exposed a never-before-noticed flaw in the city leash law that actually makes it illegal for police canines and Fire Department rescue dogs to operate off leash.

“The police and fire departments are breaking the law,” said Troy Houtman, park and recreation director. “We’re going to fix that for them.”

Houtman said the lack of an exception in the leash law for City Hall’s own working dogs got noticed when he brought forth a proposal to lease a goose dog.

“We get lots of complaints about goose poop,” Houtman said. “What the dog does is chase the geese away from the golf course.”

The Wichita City Council on Tuesday will consider changing the leash law to say that dogs can be off leash under the authority of law enforcement or a city department head, as long as a trained handler is in control of it.

If the council approves that change, Houtman said he’ll seek bids for a contactor to provide bird-dogging services.

He estimated it would cost about $5,000 to $7,000 to pay a handler and lease a goose-chasing dog for three to four months. That should do the trick, he said.

“The geese get accustomed to knowing that there’s a danger there and they don’t come back,” Houtman said. “At least that’s what we’re hoping.”

The chasing will be done in the fall so the city doesn’t run afoul of federal laws that protect migratory birds in mating and nesting seasons, Houtman said.

Senior Journalist Dion Lefler has been providing award-winning coverage of local government, politics and business in Wichita for 20 years. Dion hails from Los Angeles, where he worked for the LA Daily News, the Pasadena Star-News and other papers. He’s a father of twins, director of lay servant ministries in the United Methodist Church and plays second base for the Old Cowtown vintage baseball team.