Lisa Mason: Leash laws oppressive
I was very disheartened to see that the paper felt obliged recently to write not one but two articles describing the pending enforcement and fines from off-leash laws, which, in my opinion, are excessive bordering on oppressive.
I don’t feel this type of crackdown befits the image of the town heralded as DogTown, USA. In the national magazine Dog Fancy, I found the use of national dog bite statistics deceptive — what are the numbers in Steamboat Springs?
There is a significant portion of knowledgeable, conscientious dog owners in this town — of which I am one — who have spent time and energy training their dogs to be well mannered, well behaved, obedient companions. We walk with our dogs under control — voice control — which I know to be a powerful and very, very reliable tool if taught and used correctly. As dog owners, we are totally observant and aware of our surroundings, always courteous to any humans or animals in the vicinity. I feel our preferences are not only being ignored but dismissed.
I am by no means advocating for dogs to be allowed to roam freely without owner supervision — this is totally irresponsible and owners should be held accountable — but isn’t there a better way to combine one’s love of dogs, the outdoors and the laws, with something a bit less harsh yet still safe?
I realize that Animal Control’s new relationship outside the Shelter leaves the officers with a lot more time on their hands, but is this really a good use of their talents? Perhaps designating certain sections — like the congested downtown and the other shopping districts — as “all dogs on leashes” areas?
And for the other less trafficked areas, what if Animal Control were to devise, perhaps with the help of some of the highly competent trainers in the area, a performance test that evaluates whether a “team” (owners and their dogs) is off-leash reliable; if they pass, they can buy a special tag (or something) certifying that they have met the off-leash requirements. Their dogs must wear these new tags of certification visibly and with their other licenses as they accompany their owners on walks.
For example, check out what Boulder — a much bigger city — has done with their “Voice and Sight Tag Program” for ideas about how we might create a program unique to and for Steamboat residents.
Can’t we work together on this and find a safe yet slightly less punitive resolution that better satisfies both sides? Ideas? Let’s discuss this.
The following community members have agreed
to add their names to this letter:
Cheryl Olsen, Jennifer Latham, Janel Moore, Katie Gaylord, Roxanna Shores, Jillian Peters and Tracy Zuschlag
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