Steamboat Springs resident Joan Donham, left, walks her dogs Ruby and Deso off-leash along Lincoln Avenue on Friday with Wendy Smith Mikelsons. Donham said she frequently will walk her dogs off-leash because they are trained and under voice command at all times.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs resident Joan Donham, left, walks her dogs Ruby and Deso off-leash along Lincoln Avenue on Friday with Wendy Smith Mikelsons. Donham said she frequently will walk her dogs off-leash because they are trained and under voice command at all times.

Dog owners group, City Council member push for off-leash parks

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Off-leash hours

Spring Creek Park

Noon to 2 p.m. Wednesdays

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays

Rita Valentine Park

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays

5 to 7 p.m. Fridays

— The city will put its reconsideration of leash laws on the fast track at the urging of a Steamboat Springs City Council member.

Given the city's declining revenues and budget cuts, Councilman Jon Quinn said at Tuesday's council meeting that he thinks it is ridiculous for the community service officers to spend their time "harassing pet owners." Quinn said he was offended by an officer who recently told him he could "swim his dog" as long as he had it in on a leash.

"It's completely out of touch. It's unrealistic," Quinn said. "There is no reasonable opportunity to exercise your dog" under current city regulations.

Director of Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Chris Wilson said the city's current ordinance requires pets to be on an individual's property, in a vehicle or on a 6-foot leash. Wilson said the ordinance is comparable to leash laws across the country in urbanized areas and is necessary to protect pets and the public.

"The city continues to enforce dog-at-large and warn and inform people who have dogs off-leash," Wilson said.

Wilson reminded Quinn and City Council that the city is testing trial off-leash areas at at least two city parks during two- to three-hour designated time slots throughout the week.

"It's working out really, really good," said Frank Cefarratti, of the Responsible Dog Ownership Group of Steamboat, or RDOGS. "People want 24 hours, though, and that's what I'm pushing for."

Wilson said he will look to put a reconsideration of leash laws on a May agenda for the Parks and Recreation Commission.

"They will move this up on the to-do list," he said.

The end product could take a number of forms, from establishing the type of dedicated, 24/7 dog park Cefarratti hopes for to sticking with the current ordinance.

"It could be anything based on public comment," Wilson said. "Typically, what we see the community supporting is leash laws in the more developed parks."

Wilson said there is openness to relaxing the ordinance in the more natural, open space parks such as Spring Creek Park and Rita Valentine Park. Cefarratti said he agrees with Quinn that the current ordinance is too restrictive.

"I do feel it's restrictive, but there does have to be parameters and guidelines to follow because of liabilities," he said. "I'm optimistic about it because we are a little behind the times. : I'm just trying to get them current."

To take advantage of the city's trial off-leash hours, dog owners must watch a video and receive a voice control certification from the city.

For more information, call the city's Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department at 879-4300 or Cefarratti at 846-8048.

Comments

sickofitall 5 years, 8 months ago

Harrassing? OK. Here we go again.. Now that it is spring, we can clearly see all the dog poo defrosting. Very, very nasty. Folks who have thier dogs off leashes will not restrain thier activities to one park. They will have them off the leash whenever they want. How about the dog that comes over barking at the birds at 5am? Thier owner is too lazy to get out of bed with them so they just let em' out to HARASS me, and wake my whole family up. Yup, thats when I call animal control. Thank goodness there is Animal Control to pick up after all of the irresponsible dog owners in this town. People will do what they want, thats why we need Animal Control "Harrassing" the irresponsible dog owners.

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mtroach 5 years, 8 months ago

I like the idea of relaxed leash laws, but i think we need to look into a poop pick-up law. I don't mind dogs, just irresponsible owners that don't clean up after their pets. Let's go further, and word the law so that an dog owner on the trail is responsible for any poop on the trail, that would quickly get poop off the trails. If you are responsible for your dog's poop, and any other poop you pass, you wouldn't look the other way when another dog owner left poop behind. On spring creek, and emerald mt horses should be included! Poop is poop. Clean it up.

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Russell Orms 5 years, 8 months ago

Give me a break. We don't need a dog park because very few even bother to obey the current leash law. Dogs run all over the city with no problems. They run through my flower beds, crap in my yard and the owner just smile and say hi.

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untamedShrewd 5 years, 8 months ago

A dog park would be GREAT! It's a no-brainer for dog lovers and haters alike.

It is a facility specifically set aside for dogs to exercise and play off-leash in a controlled environment. Dog parks are well planned and have a defined set of rules for both human and dog behavior. Owners must have proof of up-to-date rabies vaccination and dog license. No unneutered dogs and dogs in heat may enter dog parks. And aggressive dogs are not allowed. Dog parks are equiped with adequate drainage, benches, shade, water, and most importantly tools to pick up and dispose of animal waster in covered trash cans. Best of all, having dog parks helps to eleminate most of the arguements people have about dogs and their owners.

Every state has dog parks. Several places in Colorado have multiple dog parks. Here's a current list of towns in Colorado with dog parks: Arvada, Aspen, Aurora, Boulder, Breckenridge, Brighton, Broomfield, Castle Rock, Colorado Springs, Conifer, Denver, Douglas County, Durango, Edwards, Englewood, Estes Park, Evergreen, Firestone, Fort Collins, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Greeley, Gunbarrel, Highlands Ranch, Lafayette, Lakewood, Littleton, Longmont/Erie, Louisville, Northglen/Thornton, Parker, Superior, Stapleton, Thornton, Vail, Westminster, Windsor. STEAMBOAT is MISSING from the list!

It's about time Steamboat adds it's name to the list!

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Guinevere 5 years, 8 months ago

ridiculous length #1: ticketing people for letting their dogs swim ridiculous length #2: paying officers to drive around town scanning the streets for people to ticket even if their dog is a) so old she can barely walk and b) nowhere near any other dogs or people and c) at her owner's side. (yes this happened)

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untamedShrewd 5 years, 8 months ago

give us a dog park for all the friendly hounds that want to play...and simply don't show up with your vicious dogs

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Tubes 5 years, 8 months ago

the entire core trail is an off leash area these days.

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Guinevere 5 years, 8 months ago

Thank you, Jon Quinn! What the animal control officers are doing is often totally ridiculous. I too have had an officer come way out of her way to tell me I could not let my dog swim in the river unless on a leash. Right. I've also had one stop her truck and walk into the park to give me an expensive ticket because my dog, who was lying a few yards away from me and going absolutely nowhere, was not on a leash. I have seen them stop someone who was barely off his own property walking with his tired old dog at heel.

Have an official available if there is a real problem but quit wasting money sending these people out to, yes, harass people who are out enjoying the day with their dog. Are they just trying to justify their job by bringing in as many citations as they can find? Tubes, you're wrong - I was just on the core trail and every single dog I saw was on a leash. The problem dog/owner is an exception.

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Guinevere 5 years, 8 months ago

windle - You're assuming a lot... I'm afraid you've got me all wrong. Where are your good manners? I would never let my (well-behaved) dog run up and jump on anyone and I have him on a leash at all times on the core trail unless he's literally in the water. Nor am I guilty in the poop department, thank you very much! I have at times been irritated by irresponsible dog owners and especially those who let their dogs run up to little children. But I do not approve of the ridiculous lengths that I have seen our city dog patrollers go to that simply defy common sense.

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Tubes 5 years, 8 months ago

Guin says: "...my dog, who was lying a few yards away from me and going absolutely nowhere, was not on a leash..."

Guin then says: "...and I have him on a leash at all times..."

so which is it???

"paying officers to drive around town scanning the streets for people to ticket even if their dog is a) so old she can barely walk and b) nowhere near any other dogs or people and c) at her owner's side. (yes this happened)"

based on your quote above, you are obviously one of those people who feel it is your discretion as to when it is necessary to have your dog leashed.

it doesn't matter how old and unable your dog is, it doesn't matter how many other people or dogs are around, or how close your dog is to your side. the law is the law! and i'm pretty sure it's the animal control's responsibility to enforce it. regardless of the circumstances. period.

windle is absolutely correct, it's folks like you who ruin it for the rest of us.

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Guinevere 5 years, 8 months ago

Tubes - I said I keep my dog on a leash on the core trail. The other incident was in a park without bikes or any people around except my group. You and windle seem to like your rules and viewpoints in extreme black and white (with a lot of anger thrown in) and you and I aren't going to get anywhere with each other.

But I say there is some gray area here and the rule needs to be changed and/or the enforcers need to use more judgement. As far as me ruining it for everyone else, I'd say those of you who want it to be illegal to throw a stick in the river and let your dog fetch it are ruining it for a lot of people/dogs. I agree with Shrewd that a big dog park would also be great. Maybe it could be on some of the city's conservation easement preserved land.

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oldskoolstmbt 5 years, 8 months ago

unfortunately a few owners do ruin it for everyone else....take for example this picture...frequently walks her dogs off-leash because they are under voice command????? how does the family with little children sharing the sidewalk know her dogs are trained or not, should ANYONE have to have a stab of fear run through them because some higher-than-thou dog owner has 'total control' with their voice?...my 160lb. mastiff is voice trained as well, but i would never assume everyone that meets us on the street or ANYWHERE else would know that....i think a dog park is a great idea, as long as it is clearly marked as such so other people can make the decision to be exposed to other people's dogs.

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tcb 5 years, 8 months ago

Put your dogs on leashes and follow the law, or you can expect contact with animal control. It's simple. Funny how it's not an issue again until a City Council member feels offended. Follow the law. Don't take your dogs shopping with you, don't take them to the bar, and don't take them to the concerts. Before you buy/adopt a dog, perhaps take time to consider leash laws and "running free" before doing so.

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Duke_bets 5 years, 8 months ago

Keep your hounds on leashes! The city really should not be lax on this law. The first time a hound knocks over a little kid at the park, the city will be in court because of Quinn's brilliant recommendation (if it passes). Rightfully so by the way. Why can't you exercise a dog on a leash? Because you want him to run and poop freely? That's the exact reason the law is in place.

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Guinevere 5 years, 8 months ago

I never said there should be no leash law. I'm saying 1) you should be allowed to throw a ball or stick into the river and let your dog fetch it. Explain how he can do that if he's on a leash. That part of the law is just dumb and needs to change. 2) the dog patrollers should use better judgement and should quit trying to justify their existence with gestapo- style enforcement. 'The law is the law' by golly but do the police go around ticketing people who are going 26 in a 25 mph zone?

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Tubes 5 years, 8 months ago

it is utterly amazing that some people really feel they should be able to chose which laws they follow and when they have to follow them. and when they get busted, they have the gall to say they have been "harrassed." what's even more amazing is that a city councilman has taken this same stance publicly.

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Russell Orms 5 years, 8 months ago

tubes... you are sooo right. the leash law is a law. we don't get the right to decide for ourselves which laws we think are appropriate. it's like getting a ticket for speeding and then telling the officer he was harrassing me in writing the ticket and should only be on the lookout for bank robbers, or maybe they are being harrassed too.

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bubba 5 years, 8 months ago

Tubes, I was thinking the same thing- I find it remarkable how people think they can choose which laws to obey and when. Personally, if I were breaking the law, I wouldn't let a photographer for the newspaper take my picture doing it, but that's just me. For the record, I have dogs, keep them on-leash and clean up after them. If you are 100 yards away yelling 'he's friendly' as your dog runs up to sniff mine, that is not 'under voice control.'

Saying 'I walk my dog off-leash because they are well trained and under voice control' is not really any different than saying 'I drink and drive, but it's cool because I can really hold my alcohol.' You are choosing to break a law put in place for the public safety because you don't want to be inconvenienced by obeying it.

If having a dog park would mean everyone would use leashes where they are required, I would be all for it, but does anyone think that will happen?

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Russell Orms 5 years, 8 months ago

bubba.... my original point exactly. very few currently obey the leash law so having a dog park is not realistic because it doesn't address the issue of people who currently disregard the law. would have a speedless driving zone eliminate speeding outside the zone? the answer is to obey the law and when that is done then maybe we can talk about a off leash park. as long as there are people like Guin.. then there is no answer.

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Guinevere 5 years, 8 months ago

Well, I thought you guys would like that one. Luckily I'm not overly sensitive. I have to laugh over the comparison to driving drunk. I think I'm starting to get a feel for the personality type who likes to hang out here. I'm just glad I'm not one of your dogs!

And I assume all you icons of moral authority never exceed the speed limit, never jaywalk, even if there are no cars in sight, never roll through a stop sign, pay the maximum taxes you possibly can, and always buckle your seat belt!

Of course a dog park is a good idea - or maybe it should be a park for you guys!

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Russell Orms 5 years, 8 months ago

guin... your comments are sure to put us in our place and to justify your actions. what we do or do not do as to speeding or jaywalking has NOTHING to do with this. if i break a law a certainly don't go whinning about harrassment. If i get a ticket for speeding or jaywalking etc then i pay the fine and sulk like a good american.

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Russell Orms 5 years, 8 months ago

ps if i dont agree with a law a might take the drastic step of trying to get that law changed, rather then just disregarding the law.

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Russell Orms 5 years, 8 months ago

the price of tea in china is 4,598 yen to the cup. which is of course the relevant answer to the question of what our actions as a defense to your actions have to do with the price of tea in china.

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jmemcse 5 years, 8 months ago

After many years of walking and hiking in and around the SS area (with children) I have formulated a very negative opinion of dogs AND their owners.

The poop all over everywhere is particularly annoying. It's so bad we have quit going to certain areas.

I'm sorry a few have ruined it for the majority.

I like the leash law, and would like to see a poop law too.

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bubba 5 years, 8 months ago

jmemcse, do you mean to tell me that there isn't a poop law? Have I been handling pooh for all these years for nothing? I certainly hope that's not the case!

Guin- Don't feel bad for me or my dogs, I am a responsible, law abiding pet owner, with extremely well cared for animals. I have broken laws in the past, and did not claim to be harassed when caught and punished. The drinking and driving analogy is not meant to equate the severity of the crimes, but the fact that they are both illegal behaviors that people engage in regularly out of convenience. I have heard a lot of people complain in this town about the cops being too harsh on drinking and driving. That doesn't bother me any more than the animal control officer because I don't drive drunk either.

If there was a dog park, I would go to it, and I would support there being one, but I don't think that the people who opt out of obeying leash laws currently are going to opt in because there is a park somewhere.

I don't know if you understand this, but cops/enforcement officers do not have judgement; judges do. If a cop/enforcement officer sees someone breaking the law as written, they write a ticket. If the perpetrator feels he or she was not committing a crime, or justified in doing so, they can have their day in court, but our law enforcement and judicial systems are set up so the cops write the tickets, and the court or appeal process exercises judgement.

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Guinevere 5 years, 8 months ago

alphadog, you old pit bull, sorry I ruffled your fur!

bubba, thanks for the government lesson but just because you want something to be true doesn't mean it is. you really think "cops/enforcement officers do not have judgement"? I wonder what they would say about that. They use it all the time and they do not write a ticket every time they "see someone breaking the law as written," as much as you may wish they did.

oh yeah, windle - Can't your 'potentially aggressive' city dog swim? Even in the brief high water season, there are plenty of spots where the current's not too strong. ("common sense, duh?" you say. Are you from the valley?)

As I already said, the leash law does need to be changed regarding the water. Beyond that, we could either write into the law every situation where it is obviously dumb to give a ticket (I mentioned a couple of these) or we could expect some judgement on the part of officers.

But you guys can keep beating your same point to death! Bye.

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bubba 5 years, 8 months ago

Actually, Guin, I didn't make that up, I learned it from a friend of mine who was training to be a cop. They are taught not to exercise judgement, as that is not their job. If they see someone breaking the law, they are supposed to write a ticket, and can be reprimanded for using judgement. That is really how the system works.

Incidentally, there is a word for people who are aware of the law, but opt not to obey it: Criminals. I doubt anyone who walks their dog off-leash thinks of themselves as such, but that is what that word means. Those of you who walk dogs off-leash and don't pick up the poo create a negative impression of all dog-owners, which ultimately results in stricter laws about dogs. This inconveniences those of us who obey the laws, and doesn't affect those of you who don't.

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trump_suit 5 years, 8 months ago

Sorry Bubba but I have to cry foul on this one. Law enforcement officials have always used "judgement" in their decisions, and should be taught to do so.

  1. When do you determine the driver in front of you is possibly DUI? Judgement.

  2. When do you determine to remove a child from their home because of possible danger? Judgement.

  3. When do you issue a speeding citation instead of a warning? Judgement.

  4. When do you ticket an unleashed dog? Judgement.

Every single time a Law Enforcement officer steps into his/her role in our society, I for one hope that they are using good judgement skills and that they have been trained to do so.

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Tubes 5 years, 8 months ago

seems like to me, if you were gonna disregard a rule and not obey it, you would do it in a low profile/low exposure area. not in a city park or in the river (which btw, happens to be right next to the bike path if you didn't notice. which btw, is where the CSO's spend a lot of their time patrolling if you didn't notice.) i can think of a half dozen stealth places to let your dog run free where the animal patrol won't catch you and the public won't much care...

speaking of judgement, you didn't exercise very good judgement by breaking the law right under enforcement's nose, did you? you deserved that ticket for not being any smarter than to let your dog off leash in a city park. DUH! but oh wait, you were being harrassed, that's right...

back to the drunken driving analogy, that's like getting hammered and speeding down US40 at 1 in the morning when no other cars are on the road but cops...and expecting to not get caught.

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bubba 5 years, 8 months ago

Trump suit, your analysis of judgement is different than mine. If an officer has reason to believe that a driver is intoxicated, then they have no right to judge whether a ticket should be issued. The judgement you speak of is being able to determine if a law is being broken, not the right to decide whether the crime is justifiable given the circumstances, which is what the discussion is about.

It may require more skill to assess the level of sobriety of a person than the level of leashedness of a dog, but if a LEO has reason to believe a crime is being committed, they have a responsibility to issue a ticket, and until the laws are changed, there is a leash law.

The people would be better served exploring ways to modify the law to suit them than complaining when an existing law is enforced, until then, the law is the law, and not obeying it is breaking the law, which makes you a criminal.

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kielyj 5 years, 8 months ago

I'm good with it. Just remove weapons restrictions for a hundred yards around the leash free zone. So when a rottweiler with the jaw pressure of a great white comes charging and the responsible pet owner's idea of voice command is to yell "Come back here.Don't worry he's friendly" ( based on real events). then i 'm ok putting a 38 upside Fido's head.

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max huppert 5 years, 7 months ago

now kielyj not a nice thing to say about rotties,, I got 2 and spent alot of time and money to make sure they are good dogs,, what i get mad about is the parents who dont watch there kids and let them run up to any dog before asking the owner. i do agree with leash law cause we have so many scarred folk of dogs in this town,, thank god for Oak Creek.. where folk mind there buisness and not worry about the stupid things.. but in Steamboat it would be nice to let a dog swim if the owner has controll over his animal.

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