Ulrich Salzgeber: Dog owners need to be respectful, aware | SteamboatToday.com

Ulrich Salzgeber: Dog owners need to be respectful, aware

Steamboat Digs Dogs was born a mere 18 months ago from increased enforcement and the desire to legalize more off-leash exercise areas for our family canines. Over time, we have morphed into a dog advocacy group that has proactively and collaboratively worked with the Steamboat Springs Police Department, Parks and Community Services Department as well as with city staff and City Council.

We have made great strides in adjusting ordinances to allow for off-leash areas and are working on improvements at Rita Valentine Park, installing dog waste dispensers at various trail heads and seeking sponsorships for those waste bags. We are fully supportive of the efforts to install a dog waste digester and composting station at the Humane Society and hope to install additional digesters.

We continue to work with the various city departments on improved signage and are creating a dog ambassador program of dedicated volunteers who will assist in the proper etiquette of shared trail usage.

One of our accomplishments has been in obtaining a test period for several off-leash areas that include:

• Blackmere Drive to the quarry

• Lower Spring Creek Trail

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• A section of Butcherknife Canyon Trail past the bridge from Staley Park to the Y

• A parcel in Whistler Park

Many of these areas have specific restrictions that can soon be found on our website: steamboatdigsdogs.com.

Although we have worked hard to be given this approval, the success of this test program is incumbent on all dog owners’ and exercisers’ cooperation. Dog exercisers come in a variety of forms from biking with their pup to cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, running or simply walking. Even a variety of motor sports enjoy the company of their canine companions.

Everyone must be aware of their dogs, their location and their activities. Please pick up after your dogs. Dog waste does not disintegrate like other animal's waste and can be very toxic, particularly if it makes its way into our waterways. This is our biggest challenge, and we need every dog owner, no matter what form of exercise they are enjoying, to be responsible.

To avoid unwanted interaction with wildlife, bikers and other trail and park users please keep your dog within sight and voice control always. Not every trail user is a dog lover, and some dogs are anxious with dog interaction.

Please be respectful and aware. If you see another dog on a leash, please place your pup on their leash at least temporarily. This goes for folks who might seem uncomfortable as your dog approaches. If you hear that wildlife has been spotted, please leash to avoid any unwanted interaction.

We have one shot at success here folks, and if this test project fails, we will again face increased enforcement, fines and loss of privileges.

Steamboat Digs Dogs is confident that our community citizens will help to change the culture that it it is not OK to leave your dog’s poop behind and to respect all users of our parks and trails.

Ulrich Salzgeber

On behalf of Steamboat Digs Dogs