Jenette Settle: Problem is dog owners

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Dear editor,

Way to go dog owners!

You have caused the separation of a cow elk from her calves. The calves are unaccounted for, and odds are that they will not survive. The cow has been tranquilized and relocated to the Flat Tops, lactating, missing her calves and not a clue to what just happened to her and her offspring.

And all because you took your unleashed dogs into a closed area.

I have talked to animal control, the Department of Wildlife, parks and recreation and to the police department.

Here is how it went down: The DOW closed the trail hoping the elk and her calves would move on. When she did not, and now knowing she was a risk to trespassers with dogs off leash, they felt they had to protect those idiots. The city park and rec department supported the closing of that trail to protect those idiots. The elk showed aggression to unleashed dogs barking at her.

So to the police department and animal control: Why were these people allowed to enter a closed area and why were they not ticketed for trespassing and having dogs at large? I was told that you did not have the manpower. Was issuing parking tickets more important than protecting the thoughtless and clueless?

I sit on the Park and Recreation Board, and as of today, know that I will always stand in favor of enforcing our city-ordained leash laws if it ever comes before the board again. If you are uncomfortable with this, you can call for my resignation by contacting any of the names listed below.

However, if you are fed up with dog owners letting their dogs run loose, chase and threaten wildlife, poop irresponsibly, act aggressively toward people, you can call any of our city leaders (John Overstreet, director of park and recreation, Bart Kounovsky, City Council president, Deb Hinsvark, city manager, and Joel Rae, chief of police) and encourage them to direct our law enforcement officers to ticket dog owners not in compliance with our laws.

We have the laws protecting wildlife and people. We need those laws enforced.

Jenette Settle

Steamboat Springs

Comments

Larry Desjardin 5 months, 1 week ago

Well said. What a needless tragedy.

The implication is this. If the city doesn't have the resources to enforce a leash law, it can't be a good steward of open space, where wildlife will naturally come.

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jerry carlton 5 months, 1 week ago

Have one CSO write tickets for one week and I bet dogs at large would drop immensely. While they are at, write tickets for not picking up your dog poop. Real tickets with fines, not warnings. That would not have solved the problem at RVP because it is an off leash park but for the city to say it could not enforce the closure at RVP with a CSO is a joke. Dogs in Steamboat are the Sacred Cows of India, they go where they want and poop where they want with only an occasional consequence for their owners.

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Heather Lyman 5 months, 1 week ago

Your position with the Parks and Rec board and the people you've spoken to would lead people to believe you have your information straight but you're missing a few pieces. The elk and her calves were out there before the DOW or dog owners knew it and she was aggressive toward humans and dogs then. Rita Valentine is an off-leash dog park and so off course there are dogs off leash there which aggravated the cow. Mountain bikers riding through the park got the cow on alert also. The signs were put up and people (including responsible dog owners) stayed out. I drive by the park every day multiple times and I didn't see anyone out there while the park was closed. The signs came down when the DOW thought they had pushed the elk out of the park a safe enough distance away. Dog owners returned and were chased by the elk again. The elk was also seen up Anglers Drive chasing humans with dogs on leashes. It's a very unfortunate situation that the calves are left without their mom. I'm thrilled the mom was relocated instead of killed as has been done in the past with wildlife that threatens human lives. The calves are still out there and healthy and need rehabilitation. There is a small group of citizens I've seen actively trying to capture the calves with some equipment provided by the DOW. Hopefully there will be a positive outcome to the situation.

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Thomss Steele 5 months, 1 week ago

Jenette you assume all dogs are off leash and ferocious... STOP it. Dogs are man's beat friend and if the cow elk had any intelligence it would have gone deeper into the woods. Lots of other issues to worry about Don't you think!?

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Jenette Settle 5 months, 1 week ago

Thomas, I am not saying all dogs are off leash and ferocious. And stopping animal cruelty IS one of the more important things I can think about.

Heather. Correct. RVP is an unleashed dog park. However, the ordinance states that dogs off leash must be under voice and sight command at all times. The dogs chasing wildlife are not under voice command. It was the DOW that told me that hikers, bikers and dog-walkers were entering the closed area, and that the elk was particularly agitated by the dogs.

This letter is not directed at all the good people who respected the closed trails in RVP, nor is it directed at the responsible dog owners who have dogs that do obey voice command or are leashed. I enjoy dogs and I respect responsible dog owners. The dog owners I have talked to are equally dismayed that tickets and fines were not issued to those who entered a closed area with uncontrolled dogs.

This letter is directed at those people who feel so entitled that a ‘Closed Trail’ sign does not apply to them, and that their dogs are so entitled that they deserve to run free no matter what the consequence to wildlife and environment.

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jerry carlton 5 months, 1 week ago

Thomss Your best friend just chewed up a toddler on the front range. Of course the real problem was the dog was owned by a homeless woman and was tied to a light post, probably hungry and thirsty. Another one of you best friends bit a 4 or 5 year old at the concert a couple of weeks ago at Howelsen Hill. There are supposed to be no dogs at this event and this dog was just roaming around in the fenced in concert area. Never was any more info in the paper about the incident. If the parents of the child had wanted to go after the city Us taxpayers) I am sure there would be a big settlement for the lawyer and a small one for the parents. I owned a Golden Retriever for 12 years but the only time she roamed free was duck hunting. She lived and pooped in her own back yard in Denver unlike many Steamboat dogs. If a dog chewed up one of your children or grandchildren, you might consider it a more serious problem.

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Ulrich Salzgeber 5 months ago

As usual there is a lot of misinformation floating around. The incident at the Concert was not as reported by Jerry. I was the first person that the little girl ran to and immediately looked for the dog. It was nicely leashed and tied to the base of a ski jump over 100 feet from the concert venue. It was lying down and not roaming free. This was a case of unsupervised children outside of the fenced concert area and not one of an out of control dog. Jenette, I appreciate your concern however we should have more and not less dog off leash areas. We have walked Spring Creek over the past 24 years on a nearly daily basis with our dogs off leash and have NEVER encountered any issues with all of the other off leash dogs. Generally the dogs on leash tend to be the more aggressive. The vast majority of the dog owners clean up after their dogs and we always carry spare bags for those that don't. We have encountered lot of wildlife without incident including Bear, Moose and Mountain Lion. The only issues that we do have are the bikers who travel much too fast for the amount of foot traffic and the city trucks that come up to empty the trash that also drive much too fast.

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jerry carlton 5 months ago

The way I "reported" the incident was what I read in the paper. I guess I made a bad assumption since the article said at the concert. Maybe we need a leash law for children to prevent them being bitten by tied up dogs. The dog on the front range that mauled the little boy was also tied up. Maybe dogs do not like to be tied up with large crowds of people around? Maybe they should be home in their yards or houses? Ulrich, I am glad you are a responsible dog owner but if you walked the core trail you would need a wheelbarrow to clean up the dog poo. I was unaware that Spring Creek trail is an off leash dog trail or is it outside the city limits or do you just do as you please like many dog owners in Steamboat? Leash laws are like speed limits, something most people ignore.

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John Kitchen 5 months ago

No Jenette, the problem is not dog owners. I feel for the elk and her calves. I really do. It was right to close the trail to allow her the opportunity to move to a safer location, however a residential neighborhood is no place for wild animals. You say that you are only directing your vitriol at those who don't have their dogs under voice control or on a leash, but your article paints with a much broader stroke.The problem is people that don't understand the level of exercise that dogs need, to be happy and healthy. For all but the smallest breeds, on-leash exercise just doesn't cut it. While I feel for the elk, you should feel more for the hundreds of dogs (and their owners, who you describe as "idiots") throughout Steamboat who have little opportunity to run and exercise properly due to the lack of off-leash areas in which to do so.

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jerry carlton 5 months ago

John Ever consider that if a person does not have a large enough yard to insure proper exercise for their dog, maybe they should not own a large breed dog? I suppose it is the responsibility of tax payers and non dog owners to provide them with places for exercise. Sacred Cows.

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John Kitchen 5 months ago

Jerry, by your argument, the city shouldn't be paying for bike trails, bike parks, soccer fields, baseball fields, the library etc.. There are many taxpayers who don't ride bikes, play soccer or baseball or visit the library. Should we get rid of those? For that matter, there are taxpayers who don't drive a car. Let's get rid of the roads too. The expenses for any one of these things pale in comparison to expenses related to the maintenance of an off-leash dog area.

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jerry carlton 5 months ago

John Everything you named above except the library brings in tourists, the life blood of this towns economy according to most. I doubt more off leash dog parks would bring in more tourists.

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John Kitchen 5 months ago

Jerry, so your criteria for local government expenditure is limited to things that either provide benefit to 100% of taxpayers, or benefit tourists? I don't deny that Steamboat relies heavily on tourism, but not everybody derives their income (directly or indirectly) from tourist dollars. Your criteria seems severely limiting for a local government trying to foster the kind of healthy, dynamic, outdoorsy, tight-knit community I know Steamboat to be. You seem to believe that a group that represents less than the whole community is a minority whose interests should be ignored. The reality is that costs for maintaining off-leash areas are small, there are a large number of dog-owners in Steamboat and their interests should not be ignored.

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jerry carlton 4 months, 4 weeks ago

I doubt that dog owners are a minority.I live in a complex of 9 condos. 7 are occupied full time this summer. 4 of the 7 are dog owners with one owning 2. One of the occupants is a renter and can not have dogs according to our bylaws so 4 of 6 are dog owners with a total of 5 dogs. Happily all are responsible owners. I think you and 500 of your friends should show up at the next council meeting with your dogs and lobby for more parks or just revoke the leash laws which many ignore anyway. Do not forget your poop bags.

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