Susy Demusis, right, and Giovanni Demusis walk their dog, Fife, along the Yampa River Core Trail on Monday afternoon. The city has expanded off-leash regulations to allow dogs to play unleashed at Rita Valentine Park and Lower Spring Creek Pond from dawn to dusk, seven days a week.

Photo by John F. Russell

Susy Demusis, right, and Giovanni Demusis walk their dog, Fife, along the Yampa River Core Trail on Monday afternoon. The city has expanded off-leash regulations to allow dogs to play unleashed at Rita Valentine Park and Lower Spring Creek Pond from dawn to dusk, seven days a week.

Off-leash rules expanded for 2 city parks in Steamboat Springs

Community divided on further liberalizing of dog laws

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— The city has expanded a program that allows dogs to be off-leash in two city parks, but some proponents are pushing for an even more relaxed approach to dog regulations in Steamboat Springs.

The Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission voted unanimously to allow dogs to play off-leash at Rita Valentine Park and Lower Spring Creek Pond from dawn to dusk, seven days a week. The move follows a pilot program that allowed dogs off-leash at the parks only during certain hours on designated days. Open Space Supervisor Craig Robinson said there were no incidents or complaints about dogs being off-leash in the parks throughout the pilot program.

"I think it's fantastic. It took about two years, but we got what we were after," Frank Cefaratti, leader of the Responsible Dog Ownership Group of Steamboat, said about the expansion of off-leash opportunities. "It's long overdue."

There have been no changes to the city's leash laws elsewhere in the city.

"Everywhere else in town, beside these two areas, the leash law remains in effect," Robinson said. "And at all times and in all areas, dog owners are required to pick up and dispose of the dogs' waste."

RDOGS and others now are hoping to see the city further liberalize its dog regulations to allow well-behaved dogs off their leashes even more.

"Steamboat deserves to be dog-friendly and people-friendly," said local photographer Joseph Cosby, who said he gathered more than 250 signatures in less than five hours from dog owners who said they would be willing to pay $50 to take a test to prove that their dogs are social and under voice command in exchange for the right to have their dogs off-leash in more areas. "That gives owners much more latitude than two parks. If the dogs can pass that test, what's the problem?

"New York City has off-leash dog parks. That doesn't make it dog-friendly."

As it stands, Cosby said, Steamboat is earning a reputation as a dog-unfriendly place. He said he doesn't think officers should be citing dog owners for having dogs off-leash and should respond to problems only when they are reported.

Steamboat resident Michael Turner, however, said the city should actively enforce its laws.

"If they want to designate a certain place, I think that's a great idea," Turner said. "On the other hand, if they're going to do that, I still support the city aggressively enforcing the leash laws within the city limits."

Turner also said he would not support allowing dogs off-leash throughout the city because he has had too many experiences of dogs whose owners say they are under voice control interfering with or acting aggressively toward him.

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. All dogs in Routt County are required to be licensed and vaccinated for rabies. This can be done at the Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter.

For more information, call the city's Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department at 879-4300 or Cefarratti at 870-3363.

Comments

greenwash 5 years ago

And how many dog owners carry a plastic bag for poops?

Off leash parks mean dogs get free reign to go where ever.

We already have one stink park now we are adding more.

So much for the wildlife.....The dogs will take care of that.

If an unleashed dog comes up to me or my family you can bet Ill tell it to go away.Im not interested in socializing with dogs.

Remember they are called Dumb for a reason.

And yes I own several of my own but I dont just let them out to crap all over the neighborhood as I witness on a daily basis.

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exduffer 5 years ago

Hundreds of thousands of acres of BLM and USFS land in our backyard, I think two parks are plenty.

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yampa 5 years ago

A leash hanging around the owners neck does not count either, the leash is to be ATTACHED to the dog.

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oldskoolstmbt 5 years ago

if one of these 'voice command' certified dogs ever bite/attack me or my family....i will be a very rich person...am i the only one that can not believe the CITY is taking on the responsibility to issue these silly certificates and are we paying this person?....i would hold the city liable for any aggressive behavior from these animals...dog owners need to think about the families walking down the sidewalk who don't like dogs or are afraid of them from a bad experience and don't KNOW what kind of a command they are under as their canine friend approaches the 3yr old child who is out for a walk on our little downtown sidewalk

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Alan Geye 5 years ago

Clearly some folks have very strong feelings about dogs around them. In my opinion, other than the folks who may have some deep psychological reasons for such strong feelings, most folks are just frustrated with poor dog parenting (yes, the dog owners). I'm a dog owner; she's a golden retriever, and yes my family has invested the time and patience to ensure that she is a good canined citizen. And yes, I wish more dog owners followed the same responsible path my wife and I have followed. I suspect though that if dogs and their parents actually "pass" a reasonable behavior test, they're probably amoung the responsible ones in the city. I think that's a reasonable compromise.

On the other hand, do you think the city should consider such a reasonable approach to evaluating and regulating the behavior of our children? No such luck.

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Tubes 5 years ago

beaner, um...no! some people just aren't dog people. it's just that simple--it's not deeply psychological dude. but would agree that some of it is frustration with irresposible dog "parenting." way to be responsible, two gold stars for you today.

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jk 5 years ago

Bean brings up a good point, some people can't stand rotten ill behaved screaming kids with no voice command skills, but we all have to share the park with them too.

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oldskoolstmbt 5 years ago

ltfo- best post thus far!! thank you! bean- i have 2 very well trained HUGE dogs myself, it was MY choice to have these dogs in my life around MY house....i can see the other side of non dog owners feelings about not being subjected to dogs in public places who are not on a leash, i believe it comes from when i was 16 and working in a ice cream store a family came in with a 3 year old girl whose face was horribly disfigured (part of her eye had been removed, nose and some of her lips)..yes, from a dog attack..they were at a family reunion in a park and it was a very well trained other family's pet...wasn't on a leash and almost ended this little girls life...i don't think someone like that needs to feel fear when they are walking down a public sidewalk and your 'voice commanded' dog comes towards her off a leash, although this may be an example of your deep psychological theory, tubes nailed it as well..some people simply do not like dogs!

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runnerbikerdriver44 5 years ago

What the city needs to do is have a program like Boulder does. My dog was allowed to be off leash, if he followed the rules, and only in designated areas. The dogs are not allowed to chase wildlife, and these areas are closely monitored by the city, in order to make sure rules are followed. I feel like this program would solve a lot of problems, and leave both sides satisfied.

http://www.bouldercolorado.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5562&Itemid=411

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frankly 5 years ago

Maybe all the dog owners should buy a piece of property together and make it a "Dog Park", with fences, rules and all that yatta yatta. Then we wouldn't have dogs unleashed in people parks and non dog owners and vulnerable children in the Dog Park. But, of course, it probably won't happen. But it would be a much, much better idea than letting dogs off leash in people parks.

The "Good Dog Citizens" is a good program, don't get me wrong, but it doesn't account for the "freak accidents", like that chimpanzee that tore off a lady's face after living with people its whole life. Animals are just sometimes unpredictable. I have dogs, and kids, and I watch them all the time when they are together. Really, I do. I even supervise my kids' interactions with our cat (mostly for the sake of the cat, mind you). My dogs are impeccably trained, too, and I do trust them ... but there's always the "freak accident" that rarely happens, but when it does, it's a big problem. I think that it is just safer to have dogs in people parks leashed.

A dog park, again, would be a nice solution, I would actually contribute money to an effort such as that, but it would have to come from all the dog owners and probably be a private venture. Or maybe the city could implement an increase in licensing fees to fund it. Maybe that would get more people to actually LICENSE their dogs!!

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oldskoolstmbt 5 years ago

runnerbkrdrvr- where were these 'designated' areas? and were they visibly posted as such to people who were not locals or new to the area?.... dog park(s) are the best solution..let your dog do whatever off the leash...everyone coming into the situation knows the risks....walking downtown/mountain/publicly...leash your dog..it really IS that simple

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jk 5 years ago

So what happens when the young child that doesn't respond to voice commands goes wandering into the dog park to visit the cute little furry creatures that his/ her parents hate and have never taught them how to interact with? Is it still the dog owners/ cities fault if there is an issue? Or will the parents finally take a little responsibility around here for their kids actions?

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oldskoolstmbt 5 years ago

jk-what???...your hatred towards children is apparent...this is not just a ill behaved child vs. your well behaved dog issue.....dog park=enter at your own risk, kid runs into park...yes, parents liability.....public sidewalk (or any other public venue)=should be able to walk freely, dog off leash decides he doesn't like the way someone smells and bites...yes, owners/cities liability...this is 2nd grade thinking for chr*st's sake!

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jk 5 years ago

"if one of these 'voice command' certified dogs ever bite/attack me or my family:.i will be a very rich person:am i the only one that can not believe the CITY is taking on the responsibility to issue these silly certificates and are we paying this person?:.i would hold the city liable for any aggressive behavior from these animals." This statement coming from a dog owner sounds like the second grade thinking to me. I have no hatred towards children, I have raised a couple as well as several dogs. All I am trying to say is the "voice command" (parenting) thing goes both ways. Teach your children as well as your dogs!

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runnerbikerdriver44 5 years ago

Oldskool-yes, they were all clearly posted on the trails, and on the trails that did allow dogs off leash, they listed where the other ones were. It really was a great system. Was it a perfect system-no. But they had bike cops patrolling them, and if you didn't follow the rules you were fined. They put the responsibility on the owners, and after a few people got tickets, they started following the rules.

I feel people also have to consider the fact that this town accommodates everyone else. If anyone has ever enjoyed a "hiker only" trail, or "bike only" trail, then you should support other peoples' interests as well. The bike cop is up on the Emerald all the time, passing out citations to owners with dogs off leash. I don't think he would have problem with heading over to Spring Creek to make sure things are under control.

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Matthew Stoddard 5 years ago

On voice commands- every once in a while, I see people who walk their dogs without leashes. Supposedly, these dogs are under voice command...if actually commanded to stay off other's properties.

Also, I've seen- every once in a while- 2 sets of perfectly voice commanded dogs from 2 separate families...completely disregard voice command because the dogs were too busy barking and growling after one another.

Just sayin'.

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oldskoolstmbt 5 years ago

runner~ sounds like a good system to me.... jk~ i really don't know where your coming from...i guess if you have deep fears of a 2 yr old under voice command going postal on you, you should head up RCOGS

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jk 5 years ago

Oldskool, Sorry I threw my crayon box out a few years ago so I can't draw you a picture about where I'm coming from. It probably wouldn't sink in anyway.

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Harvey Lyon 5 years ago

Yesterday I sat and watched two baseball games at Emerald Park. About 20 folks came by me from either the bike path or from some open space in the park to their car in Emerald Park parking lot with dogs not on lease. This was the same time as the Steamboat Soccer Little Kid Round Robin.

While these dogs were all well behaved and came by to give me a friendly sniff I was thinking "Steamboat must be a Special Place with all these special people with special dogs who don't have to follow the rules."

I wonder how they'd feel about a fellow driving with a .08 BAC.

Rules are rules and if you don't like them lobby to get them changed. Following the rules is a sign of rspect for your fellow citizen and ignoring the rules is a sign of disrespect.

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exduffer 5 years ago

2 weeks ago, dog on a leash, unattended, tied up outside the entrance to the childrens library at the beginning of story time for toddlers. Responsible owner? Would this revoke your privilages?

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oldskoolstmbt 5 years ago

jk~ i'm well aware of what 'getting off the subject' LOOKS like, thanks.

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