Group launches fundraising efforts for dog park improvements in Steamboat Springs |

Group launches fundraising efforts for dog park improvements in Steamboat Springs

Raphael plays in the snow at Rita Valentine Park on Friday afternoon.
Scott Franz

— Steamboat Springs dog owners who want better parks and amenities for their animals can now pitch in to help make those dreams a reality.

Steamboat Digs Dogs, a new community group of dog advocates, recently launched a GoFundMe page to raise funds for local park and trail improvements.

As of Friday, 11 donors had already contributed $675.

The dog group is hoping to raise at least $10,000 so an endowment fund can be set up.

Future fundraising would go toward capital projects, including proposed improvements at Rita Valentine Park.

Steamboat Digs Dogs has a long list of proposals it believes will make the city more canine friendly.

Members of the group are suggesting that the city make much of the Spring Creek Trail and several trails on Emerald off-leash dog areas.

More areas of local parks could also be off-leash areas at certain times of the day.

Currently, only Rita Valentine and Spring Creek parks have off-leash areas for dogs.

“Our town is woefully short of providing facilities for dogs,” Steamboat Digs Dogs member Kathy Connell said.

The group is also calling for improvements at Rita Valentine and the establishment of new dog parks around the city, including at Whistler, River Creek, Fetcher and Stehley parks.

Proposed improvements at Rita Valentine include the addition of a water source, a possible fenced area for older and smaller dogs and a sheltered area to provide shade.

Connell said improvements to that park are the most urgent need for the group.

The trails would also be improved, she added.

Dog advocates will present a 16-page plan for citywide canine improvements Wednesday at the Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission meeting.

Public feedback from all park users will be accepted.

“We’re in the feedback phase right now,” Connell said. “This is a work in progress.”

A GoFundMe page isn’t the only way the dog group plans to fund future improvements.

The group is proposing a new dog poop composting program that could turn animal waste into cash.

Connell noted the compost could be sold, with the proceeds benefitting park and trail improvements and the purchase of biodegradable poop bags.

There are also plans to pursue grant funding from dog food company, Beneful.

“Our whole thing is, we want to as a group be self-sufficient,” Connell said.

The Steamboat Springs City Council recently praised the dog adovcates for approaching the city with solutions in a productive manner.

Connell and other dog advocates have already been working closely with the Steamboat Springs Police Department to suggest changes to the animal code.

The changes would allow dogs to swim in the Yampa River off leash under certain conditions and open the door for the Parks and Recreation Commission to recommend more off-leash areas.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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