While in Tallinn it has long been forbidden for people to walk their dogs without a leash in public spaces, in Tartu, up to now, there has been no such requirement. However, following several appeals from concerned residents, Estonia's second largest city has made leashes compulsory for dogs when in public space.
It is rare to see people in Tartu walking their dogs without a leash. However, until the end of May, dog owners were not obliged to keep their pets on leashes while walking in the city.
"The change was introduced because a number of people approached the city and were concerned that loose dogs were intimidating, threatening or disturbing them or their pets. As dog attacks with tragic consequences have occurred in several places, though fortunately not in Tartu, the more the city thought it would be reasonable to put a leashing requirement in place," said Ülle Neeme, head of Tartu City Government's supervision department.
Of course, dogs are still allowed to run free in the city's purpose-built dog parks.
Nevertheless, dog owner Anneli told ERR, that she has no trouble controlling her pet without a leash. "He listens to my words and comes straight to me. It's not like there are any problems," Anneli said.
"Well, if it's a badly behaved dog, then I guess so. But, if the dog isn't naughty and it listens to your words (telling it) to stay at your side, I can't see any reason why it should need to be on a leash. Unless there are people around, you should always (be able to take them for a) walk," said Marju, who is also a dog owner.
The city's new rules do not only apply to dogs. From now on, Tartu's cats will also be required to abide by the law, which states that they too should not be left unattended in public places.
However, Tartu's most legendary cat, Johannes Gutenberg, who lives at the former widget factory turned creative city "Aparaaditehas," does not actually have an owner.
The city has reportedly communicated with Aparaaditehas on a number of occasions regarding Johannes Gutenburg's activities on the streets in the surrounding area.
Equally, while Tartu's Karlova and Supilinn districts have historically been characterized as areas where cats can roam free, residents in those areas are increasingly reaching out to the city to complain about the behavior of local strays.
"Neighbors, who have flowerbeds and children's sandboxes are bothered (by the cats). Every week cats are also getting into accidents. There is a lot of traffic, and so owners might also look at this from the perspective that it is dangerous for their animals to be around that traffic," said Neeme.
Editor: Michael Cole