Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Proposed locations and times for trial off-leash dog recreation program
- Spring Creek Park, noon to 2 p.m. Wednesdays and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays
- Rita Valentine Park, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and 5 to 7 p.m. Fridays
- Whistler Park, 3 to 6 p.m. Sundays and 9 to 11 a.m. Thursdays
- Wednesday, September 12, 2007, 6:30 p.m.
- Olympian Hall, Howelsen Hill, Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs A trial program to allow dogs to romp off leash during specific times in some city parks will be considered tonight by the Parks and Recreation Commission.
The plan would create two- and three-hour windows of leash-free exercise two days a week in three city parks. The proposal has been developed throughout many weeks by the Commission and city staff along with members of the Responsible Dog Ownership Group of Steamboat (RDOGS). The purpose of today's 6:30 p.m. meeting at Olympian Hall is to gather public reaction to the tentative plan.
"This is it. This is finally the time to get the community together and discuss abiding by the rules," RDOGS member Frank Cefaratti said.
The city of Steamboat Springs already has a leash law. The City Council would have to pass a new ordinance if the trial program were to become permanent. Such an ordinance would likely name the areas within city limits that would be "off leash" during specific times.
Cefaratti said the ultimate goal of RDOGS is to establish an off-leash agility park for dogs, perhaps with a pond. The success of the trial off-leash program would be important to reaching that ultimate goal, he said.
"We need the support of pet owners to follow the rules," he said. "We need to get through it with no catastrophes. Our goal is to cut down on the stress of community officers who have to issue warnings to pet owners."
City staff is hopeful that creating specific times and locations for owners to exercise their dogs off leash will reduce the overall impact of pets in parks.
A memo to City Council and approved by Parks and Rec staff notes: "Pet waste not being picked up and disposed of properly is already a problem everywhere. Having designated areas and times for off-leash dogs concentrates pet ownership awareness and responsibility regarding this issue."
The memo goes on to describe circumstances in which pet owners could still be warned or cited during the off-leash periods.
Dogs off leash must be responsive to voice command, Cefaratti said. If not, owners with unruly or disobedient dogs could be subject to citations from a patrolling officer.
City Manager Alan Lanning is expected to work with RDOGS and Parks and Rec staff on subsequent steps necessary to move forward with the trial program.
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