J. Michael Turner: Support leash laws
April 26, 2009
To quote from the April 19 Steamboat Pilot & Today, “Councilman John Quinn said at Tuesday’s council meeting that he thinks it is ridiculous for the community service officers to spend their time harassing pet owners.” Quinn said he was offended by an officer who recently told him he could swim his dog as long as he had it on a leash. As a citizen, resident and taxpayer in this city, I’m offended by such a childish, selfish and irresponsible statement by an elected official in a position of leadership.
There appears to be a segment of dog owners in our community who think that we have leash laws solely for the purpose of harassing them and giving our underworked law enforcement personnel something to do when they are bored. The reality is that every other community in the country has leash laws. They are not unique to Steamboat Springs.
Leash laws are not in place to harass dog owners. They are in place to protect the majority of people who don’t own dogs, might be afraid of dogs, are allergic to dogs, don’t want to have a dog run up and jump on them and don’t particularly like stepping in piles of poop. A leash-free dog park is great idea, do it. But be aware that those who disregard the laws outside of those areas are violating laws on the books to protect a majority of our citizens, not to harass those who think they are exempt because their dogs are special and everyone else in town should think they are special.
If leash-free areas are established, enforcement of leash law violations outside of those areas should, if anything, be increased and vigilantly enforced. Especially in the Fetcher Pond area where a vast number of dog owners in town seem to assume the leash law does not apply to them.
Councilman Quinn also made the absurd statement that “there is no reasonable place to exercise your dog” under current city regulations. How about everywhere in the city where you can walk, jog or run with your dog? If you are not capable of doing that with your dog on a leash, then maybe you should have been a more responsible person before you accepted the privilege of becoming a dog owner. I was a dog owner for more than 30 years, and I had no problem walking my dogs on leashes whenever appropriate or required by law. When I felt they needed to run free, I found plenty of opportunity in the thousands of acres of forest land outside of the city limits. It wasn’t complicated or an inconvenience.
As a citizen, taxpayer and voter, I’m insulted by statements such as “it’s ridiculous for community service officers to spend their time harassing pet owners.” It shouldn’t be news to you, Councilman Quinn, that enforcement of the law is a primary job of those officers, and it’s an insult to them and other citizens of this community to accuse them of harassment because they are doing the job they were hired to do.
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To council as a group, please consider the welfare of the community as a whole, not just a vocal few who think it’s their right to let their dogs run amok when debating this leash law issue.
To Councilman Quinn, please live up to your responsibilities as an elected official and person in position of leadership by at least obeying the laws of this town and not demeaning and insulting those who are hired to enforce them.
J. Michael Turner