Gorham dog owners who don’t clean up after their pets now face a minimum fine of $150 for the first violation and double that for each additional violation in the same year under new ordinance changes.

Owners must also leash their dogs on town-owned property or be similarly fined, and dogs are now banned from playing surfaces at town athletic fields. Dogs that constantly bark or howl can wind up costing their owners between $150 and $1,000 depending on the frequency and duration.

Gorham Town Clerk Laurie Nordfors, right, administers the oath of office Tuesday to Councilors Charles “Lou” Simms and Suzanne Phillips. Robert Lowell / American Journal

The council voted 6-1, with Councilor Rob Lavoie opposed, to pass the ordinance changes at a meeting Tuesday. Also at the meeting, councilors selected newly reelected Councilor Suzanne Phillips as their chairperson and Councilor Lee Pratt as vice chairperson. Phillips and Lou Simms, elected last week to replace Councilor Ronald Shepard who retired Tuesday, were sworn into office.

Dog waste has been an issue in recent years on walking trails in town and on sports fields with coaches and parents objecting to children having to play on littered fields. While dogs are still allowed on town trails, they are banned from a “playing surface of any municipal-owned recreation facility” but Phillips said pets can still accompany owners watching games from the sidelines.

People walking their dogs must also have in their possession a plastic bag or similar container for “collecting and removing feces,” according to the ordinance.

“Everybody, everywhere, pick up after your pets,” Phillips said Wednesday.


Dogs now must be leashed on town-owned or town-leased property, except for town trails, and leashes can be up to 30 feet in length. Phillips said dogs are also required to be on leash at Shaw Cherry Hill Farm.

Town Councilor Phil Gagnon said that in addition to the new rules, the town should provide “dog waste dispensers and refuse bins to help alleviate some of the waste issues we are seeing.”

Phillips suggested that information handouts should be given to people when they license their dogs. She said dog grooming businesses and other volunteers will also help get the word out.

Lavoie’s objection to the ordinance changes centered on Narragansett School fields, which he said are insufficiently delineated and could result in undue fines for some dog owners.

This story was edited Nov. 20 to clarify that dogs can be unleashed on town-owned trails. 

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