Dog advocates prepare to submit proposed rule changes to City Council | SteamboatToday.com

Dog advocates prepare to submit proposed rule changes to City Council

Duncan leads a walk on the Spring Creek Trail as his owner, Amy Norris, left, talks with Erin Levan.

— Trail improvements at Rita Valentine Park, a dog poop composting program and more off-leash zones are among the things dog advocates in Steamboat Springs are considering proposing to city officials in the coming months.

The Steamboat Springs City Council as soon as December could also weigh in on some proposed changes to the city's dog rules that would aim to make the city more canine-friendly.

Under one possible proposal, dogs would be allowed off leash while they're playing in the water.

Four working groups are currently meeting to tackle a range of topics that include amending the dog ordinance, establishing more off-leash dog parks, adding more off-leash opportunities on local trails and identifying funding opportunities for dog-related amenities.

Kathy Connell, who helped organize the grassroots effort to make the city more dog friendly, said Tuesday the dog advocates hope to have changes to propose by December.

"There's really a lot of work being done," Connell said.

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Connell said there's a consensus among members of the dog working group that the city can't just create one new dog-friendly park because it would be swamped.

For this reason, the group is looking at options to create more off-leash zones and dog-friendly areas around the city.

Connell said one idea is to add water, an improved trail system and other amenities for canines at Rita Valentine Park, where dogs are already allowed to be off leash in certain areas.

"We're also looking at a place west of town, in town, and a place on the mountain where there could be periods of time where dogs could be off leash and under voice control," Connell said.

She suggested a portion of Whistler Park could become a place where dogs would be allowed to be in the water off leash.

City Councilman Scott Ford said he was encouraged by the progress being made by the grassroots dog committee.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we see some proposed ordinance changes at the end of this year or early next year," Ford said. "I think they are very aware they're not going to get everything they want, but they'll get some."

Ford said this is the first major push for changes to dog rules that he's seen in the city since 2004 or 2005.

Ford said the issue has likely come up this year in part because the city's sizable dog-owning population has outgrown the facilities the city currently has for dogs.

Dog owners today have two places to take their dogs off leash in the city limits.

These places include a portion of Rita Valentine Park and a small dog park at one of the Spring Creek ponds.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10