A hand-held apparatus which dispenses, retracts and locks an animal leash in a desired position is disclosed characterized by a spool housing sized to store a length of cord and a handle portion adapted to be grasped in the hand of a user. The spool housing rotably mounts a spool having the length of cord wrapped thereabout with the distal end of the cord being attachable to an animal collar. A coil spring is mounted between the spool and spool housing to continuously bias the length of cord in a retracted position about the spool. A high strength locking mechanism adapted to selectively apply friction to the spool and positively prevent the cord from being dispensed or retracted from the spool is provided which is actuable by way of a trigger lever formed on the handle portion of the housing. A cam actuator stop is additionally provided to maintain the locking mechanism in a locked orientation.