The Mammoth Lakes Police Department welcomes and encourages responsible dog owners within our beautiful community. Mammoth Lakes is bordered by the pristine Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness Areas and the Inyo National Forest, nearly 2 million acres of one of America’s largest national forests - an incredible outdoor playground and dog's paradise!
Mammoth Lakes itself is only about 4-square miles with a Municipal Boundary that encompasses the Lakes Basin, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, the Sherwin Mountains and many popular developed recreation areas. Impacts from dogs off leash and dog waste within these smaller, popular areas is becoming not only an environmental and health risk, but a safety risk for both owners and their animals.
To ensure that our parks, trails and many treasured developed recreation areas are safe, cleaner and healthier for us all, the Mammoth Lakes Police Department is launching a dog resource, education and enforcement campaign. The campaign includes a Town Critters and Code Compliance Facebook page, a new Dog Resources, Licensing and Enforcement webpage, along with educational material distributed by Police Officers.
NEW Dog Services webpage
The dedicated webpage is the authoritative source for dog owners in Mammoth Lakes with informative resources such as the Municipal Code (Title 6 – Animals), dog licensing information, levels of enforcement and an interactive map highlighting the Town’s Municipal Boundary, high-use areas, and dog waste stations located on our many trails and multi-use paths.
Education and Enforcement
Commencing this spring, the Mammoth Lakes Police Department will be increasing education and enforcement efforts in high-use areas within the Town’s Municipal Boundary. These areas include our many parks, multi-use paths and developed recreation areas, such as the Lakes Basin. Click on the interactive map on the website to view these high-use areas.
“While the Animals ordinance was recently updated, we have always had a leash law, typical of most cities in our state,” stated Chief Davis. “The goal of enforcement is to gain compliance. Enforcement can be as simple as a friendly warning or may escalate to a citation, just like all the other laws we enforce.”
A recent study confirmed why compliance does make a difference in reducing dog waste. The study found that owners with dogs on-leash were significantly more likely to bag their pets’ waste than owners with dogs off-leash. When both bagging waste and immediately disposing of waste in a waste or compost receptacle are considered, owners with dogs on-leash had a tendency to bag and immediately take pet waste for disposal versus owners with-out their pet on a leash. In addition, enforcement of the leash law will hopefully reduce the occurrence of dog’s biting people or other dogs. In 2020, 10 incidents were reported (3 dog on dog), while in 2019, 21 incidents were reported to the Mammoth Lakes Police Department.
The Mammoth Lakes Municipal Code states that: “The owner of any dog shall be responsible for cleaning up any feces deposited by the dog or the animal within the Town of Mammoth Lakes Municipal Boundary and disposing of such feces in a waste receptacle. The provisions of this Section shall not apply to guide dogs accompanying a blind or disabled person or to a dog used by police or in rescue actions.” (6.12.190 - Dog Waste).
In addition, “It is unlawful for any dog owner to allow their dog to run at large within the Town of Mammoth Lakes Municipal Boundary. All dogs shall be kept securely fastened by a chain, rope, or leash unless securely confined within private property legally controlled by the owner of the dog. Further, any dog off the premises of its owner shall be presumed at be at large unless it is securely fastened to a rope, chain or leash not exceeding six feet in length and under the immediate physical control of the owner.” (6.12.210 - Dogs at Large).
The prevalence of dogs off leash and the overwhelming amount of dog waste is not only a major safety concern, but an escalating environmental issue for the community and a significant health risk for the many children and adults who frequent the Town’s parks, trails and many popular recreation areas.
“Shady Rest Park has become one of the community’s de facto dog parks, with many dog owners blatantly ignoring the law and shunning their responsibilities. We are hopeful that this campaign will be successful in educating both residents and our many visitors on their moral and legal responsibilities - to keep their dog on a leash and pick up after their pet,” commented Stuart Brown, Parks and Recreation Director.
Dangers of Dog Waste – a Major Pollutant
According to the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), “Environmental management of dog waste has become a more pressing issue for park and recreation agencies as the percentage of households with dogs increases and the demand for dog parks continues to grow.” The scope of the problem is momentous. It is estimated that 90 million dogs in America produce about 11 million tons of dog waste per year. What makes this number even more troubling is the fact that only about 60 percent of dog owners pick up after their dogs. That leaves about 40 percent or 4.4 million tons of dog waste polluting our parks, waterways and environment.
In a study conducted by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, the organization tracked canine defecation events on Boulder, Colorado’s open space and mountain park lands for over a month last summer. The results were staggering. The area sees over 5.3 million visitors across 45,000 acres, resulting in 60,000 pounds of dog waste left behind. This finding could be similar to what the Eastern Sierra experiences in summer with our many visitors descending upon the Inyo National Forest, particularly peak visitation areas such as the Lakes Basin.
Dog waste is full of bacteria and parasites. It poisons grass and lawns, it carries hookworms, ringworms, and tapeworms, it transmits human diseases, and it pollutes waterways. Many people may think dog waste is a natural fertilizer – it is not. Cows are herbivores. Manure is essentially broken-down plant matter (compost). Conversely, dogs are carnivores, and their waste is toxic to plants and kills grass. In addition, dogs are fed extremely nutrient-rich foods not part of the ecosystem causing an imbalance, and in some instances, promoting the growth of invasive plant species on land and algae blooms in the water.
Another misconception is that rain or water from park sprinklers will break down the dog waste. Not picking up dog waste before rainfall is even worse than letting it sit on a dry day. When the rainfall or sprinkler system washes over the dog waste, the contaminated water is carried into local waterways and lakes, significantly affecting the water quality. Numerous studies have shown that much of the bacteria in urban waters comes from dog waste.
“Dog waste is a major pollutant and growing health hazard largely because dog owners aren’t doing a good enough job picking it up. We need to educate and unfortunately enforce dog owners to do the right thing—pick up their dog’s waste,” said Chief Davis.
The Mammoth Lakes Police Department would like to thank our residents and many visitors in advance for their commitment to keep Mammoth Lakes safe and beautiful for all to enjoy!