Maureen Smilkstein: Another look at dogs off leash
I have lived here 38 years and owned and hiked my dogs off leash daily without problems during that time.
While I recognize there are irresponsible dog owners, most of us are not.
I think the real problem lies with the increasing numbers of trail users and the attitude of self-interest by certain users. There are 2,500 acres of open space managed by the city and over 150 miles of trails. I think we already have the space and quality trails to accommodate all users including dogs off leash.
I fully support enforcing leash laws, i.e. dogs at large, failure to pick up, core trail and city/residential areas.
Here are a few suggestions:
• Leash dogs from car to first 100 feet of trailhead to open space.
• Blackmere and trails west to pond are leash free.
• Education of all user groups concerning safety, sharing and proper use of trails.
• De-emphasize dog park development. It is clear that this is a low priority with the city and presents many logistical and expensive challenges. Concentrate on improving what we have.
• Realize that most dog owners want to use our open space to exercise with our dogs, not “play” with them. Big difference. We “play” at home, in our yards and in our dog park.
• Dog enforcement officers need to show more common sense and courtesy. We are not criminals. Protect and serve, not punish and profit.
• Pet tourism is a major industry. A quick Google search shows 56 percent of Americans travel with pets, we spend $60 billion yearly on our pets and this amount is increasing yearly. Sixty-three percent of us consider our pets to be family members. These are serious figures to consider for our city’s marketing department.
• Perhaps consideration of the economic impact of pet tourism may lead to the revision of our current leash laws and the ability to reclaim the title “Dog Town USA.”
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