Our view: Steamboat still digs dogs | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Steamboat still digs dogs

At issue: An off-leash dog attacked an elk calf on Emerald Mountain, and the dog owner was fined by CPW. Our view: This one incident should not ruin the progress that’s been made toward establishing more off-leash areas in Steamboat Springs. Editorial Board • Logan Molen, publisher • Lisa Schlichtman, editor • Tom Ross, reporter • Alice Klauzer, community representative • Cameron Hawkins, community representative Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or lschlichtman@SteamboatToday.com.

Anyone who walks along the Yampa River Core Trail or hikes Steamboat Springs area trails, like Spring Creek or Blackmere Drive, may have noticed yellow sign boards that display reminders about dog etiquette.

“Be a good neighbor; pick up after your dog,” the sign reads at the entrance to Stehley Park and Butcherknife Trail. Another greets people entering Blackmere Drive on Emerald. It reminds dog owners, “If your dog poops, you scoop.”

These signs are the work of Steamboat Digs Dogs, a grassroots group that is focused on making Steamboat as dog-friendly as possible and promoting responsible dog ownership. Other signs are posted on trails reminding users that off-leash rules are back in effect on Emerald and other areas.

The organization, led by passionate volunteers, is also credited with securing 20 new dog waste receptacles along the city’s trail system. The new dispensers offer free and convenient eco-friendly compostable dog waste bags that encourage dog owners to pick up after their pets.

And another impressive accomplishment was the group’s successful efforts to lobby the Parks and Recreation Commission to create additional off-leash areas in the city on a trial basis this past year. The areas included Whistler Park, Stehley Park and Butcherknife Trail and Blackmere Drive.

Based on community feedback and the lack of complaints, the trial period seems to have been a success except for one incident that occurred last week when an off-leash dog attacked an elk calf near the Blackmere Drive trailhead.

The incident was front-page news on the day it happened, but we would encourage city leaders not to let one “bad” apple spoil the whole barrel. We are hesitant to use that expression because the dog owner took responsibility and reported the attack, which was a “good” response that could have saved the animal’s life. And we don’t fault CPW for issuing a citation following the encounter, because that’s their job.

When City Council revisits the issue of off-leash dog areas in the city limits later this year, we encourage them to not let this one incident overshadow the entire trial period that seemed to unfold with few problems. We’d like to see more off-leash areas established, and if that happens, we think it’s due to the great work done by Steamboat Digs Dog. The group has made a difference, and we think it’s been effective because it’s a grassroots, community effort led by our town’s most avid dog lovers.

And if Steamboat wants to be known as Dog Town USA, it’s ultimately up to individual dog owners to be responsible by following proper etiquette, adhering to city leash laws and keeping the rights of those who want to walk, hike and bike around town without encountering unleashed dogs top of mind.

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