Q: Is it true there is a law that all dogs are required to be on leashes when out in public within the city of Santa Monica? Is it also true that you cannot tie up your animal with the leash and leave him unattended?

A: Both questions are true and the purpose of Santa Monica Municipal Code Section 4.04.155 is to ensure the safety of both people and other animals from undue harm. The City Council adopted a “leash law” ordinance on Aug. 10, 2004. The law states that all dogs shall not be allowed on any public property unless it is in both the custody and control of a capable person and is either restrained by a leash that is no longer than 6 feet in length or is confined in a car. (Please note that when an animal is locked in a car there should be proper ventilation and the car’s temperature should always be considered. Even with windows partially open, the temperature in a car can easily reach triple digits within a short amount of time, causing heat exhaustion and death for the animal.

Retractable leashes that extend longer than 6 feet are in violation of the law.

Even when a dog is tied up and left unattended, they can become aggressive when frightened or agitated by someone walking by, if someone tries to pet them or another dog tries to attack. The added security of having the owner available to either warn unsuspecting people (especially children) that the dog is not friendly, or to assist if another animal attacks is why the law was enacted. Just because the dog is cooperative for its owner, does not mean it will listen to others and we want to avoid as many unwelcome incidents as possible.

Some other laws pertaining to dogs include:

• Anyone walking a dog must have materials, in plain view, that are sufficient to remove and dispose of any fecal matter deposited on the ground by the dog.

• Dogs are not allowed to be on any school ground, public building, tot lot, playing field, tennis court, basketball court or on the beach. (This rule does not apply to dogs which are being used by the disabled as guide or service dogs.)

• Any dog older than 4 months must have a dog license affixed to its collar or harness.

Failure to adhere to any of those laws can result in a ticket which comes with a fine of not less than $50 for each offense. Citations for these and other animal related offenses can be issued by police officers; however they are usually handled by Animal Control officers.

Animal Control officers are specifically trained and designated to enforce state and municipal codes related to the control of animals and do so with everyone’s safety in mind, including both the animals and people. Their other huge responsibility is taking care of the numerous injured and lost animals found throughout our city. Please give them the same respect and courtesy you would give any police officer.

For these and other laws pertaining to animals, please go City Hall’s website for more information. Or you can visit the Animal Shelter at 1640 Ninth St.

Q: I’m always afraid of having my identity stolen. What’s the latest trend happening in identity theft?

A: We have all been hearing about the importance of keeping our driver’s license, Social Security card, credit cards and other forms of identification secure to prevent being a victim of identity theft. Unfortunately, the latest trend for criminals to obtain your information is through social networking sites like Facebook.

Many criminals find an enormous amount of information from the personal information many people divulge on their Facebook accounts. Our recommendation is to limit the amount of personal information that is available on your Facebook profile. Some tips to do this include:

• Never list your full date of birth, phone number or physical address on your profile. Your true friends will already know that information so putting it on your profile will only give the criminals more information to work with.

• Do not list on Facebook, or any other public forum, the fact that you are away on vacation, then confirming that vacation by posting updates while you are away. This again will give criminals the window of opportunity to break into your home while you are gone.

• Use your “Privacy Settings.” Only post the most basic information on your public page. If you allow someone to become your “Friend” they can then find out more about you.

• Do not “Friend” someone on Facebook unless you know them or can figure out what the requester’s intentions are. Find out why they want to be your friend and when in doubt, tell them, “No thanks.”

• Even within your privacy settings, be wary about posting family birthdays, anniversaries, and your pet’s names. Criminals often track that type of information as they are commonly used as passwords for bank accounts, e-mails and other secured accounts.

• If you have children on Facebook, share this information with them and always monitor who they are networking with. Too many adults are posing as youngsters to not only steal your children’s identities, but to lure your children away.

This column was written by Neighborhood Resource Officer Jeff Glaser (Beat 3: Downtown, including the Third Street Promenade). He can be reached at (424) 200-0683 or jeffrey.glaser@smgov.net.