Dogs should be permitted to ride scooters on public sidewalks in Washington, D.C., but they have to be kept to a safe distance of no more than 50 feet, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
The ruling, from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, says dogs, like other animals, have inherent mobility and therefore can travel at speeds that would not be feasible for humans to keep up with.
“Dogs are capable of performing tasks that humans can only dream of,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote.
But he added that dogs must be restrained, and that owners must make sure they do not interfere with their dogs’ ability to do the task at hand.
As a result, “the law imposes severe and unjustified limits on the freedom of dogs,” Alito said.
He added that the court “is not persuaded that a dog’s inherent mobility, or its ability to perform a task that humans cannot do, constitutes a fundamental right that must be protected.”
The court’s decision follows a ruling by a three-judge panel in May that a Florida man who has lived with a pit bull for more than 20 years violated the law when he allowed his dog to travel around his yard on his scooter.
In the April 29 ruling, U.C.L.A. argued that it has a constitutional right to use a scooter to travel on sidewalks.
Dogs, on the other hand, have a natural mobility that requires a leash, which Alito called “a common sense approach.”
“The Court does not accept the view that dogs have a fundamental liberty interest in the right to travel,” he wrote.