Denver Direct: Sit! Down! Roll over!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sit! Down! Roll over!

Off-leash dog owners will need “voice control” – like Cesar

Report: Public Meeting Dog Park Master Plan
Scheitler Rec Center, Berkeley Park
January 16, 2010
From: Jay Rust and Larry Ambrose, Members, Dog Park Master Plan Task Force

The “public hearing” on the Dog Park Master Plan on Saturday, January 16 was reorganized to be a “meet and greet” affair: story boards showing what other metro areas are doing, status of Denver’s dog parks/off-leash sites, recommendations. People were asked to share their thoughts personally in writing or talk to staff. A staff person revealed that the mayor wants off-leash parks/sites be no more than two miles apart so that driving to a site could be reduced.

Dog owners will still be asked to sign a waiver stating that their dog is under voice control and that they have read and understand rules and regulations. Hours are still during night time during some months of the year. I guess dogs will wear head lights? Special tags that allow off-leash will be sold to non-Denver residents. Denver has over 140,000 dogs. City Park is proposed to have the next off-leash, not fenced, dog site(s). Perhaps in more than one location — four locations were identified (one is where the buses unload school children by the museum, two are by play fields/picnic area and one is by a popular statue and close to 17th Street).

Not Totally Addressed and Resolved:

· Dog feces may cause health risks – E.Coli, Salmonella, Giardia, roundworm;

· Grass is not a good surface for off-leash dogs since dog feces cannot be totally removed from the grass;

· Dog off-leash sites are not suitable for picnics and other park uses;

· Signing a waiver only guarantees that a dog owner signed the document — it does not prove that the owner has “voice control,” read and understands their responsibilities;

· “Voice control” needs to be defined;

· Allowing dogs to run off-leash during late evening/night hours may cause safety issues and barking noise concerns;

· Dogs running off-leash instinctively revert to “pack” mentality, making voice control problematic;

· Off-leash dogs have frightened/attacked children, adults and other dogs;

· Off-leash dogs have run into the street in front of vehicles;

· Dogs’ paws running off-leash dig into the turf causing destruction especially during the many months that Denver’s grass is dormant;

· Projected revenue may not cover expenses caused by the increased number of dogs running off-leash;

· Encouraging non-residents of Denver to run their dogs off-leash exacerbates off-leash problems;

· Effective enforcement of rules and regulations needs further attention;

· Seeking volunteers to help enforce rules and regulations is not likely to be effective.

In addition to a $15 dog license, Parks and Recreation is also recommending an additional $25/dog annual fee to be required to take a dog into a fenced dog park. It is likely that only a portion of those 10% of Denver Dog owners now licensing their dogs annually (only an estimated 14,000 dogs are licensed) will be purchasing additional required tag thus double taxing law abiding dog owners. The City has refused to consider enforcing or promote the already in place licensing requirement in order to register more dogs at the $15 fee or to do a cost benefit analysis to determine if this latter strategy would produce more revenue for the City at a lower cost for most dog owners..

The next “meet and greet” Dog Park Master Plan session will be on:

Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010
1:30pm — 3:30pm
Cook Park Rec Center
7100 Cherry Creek Drive South

City Park Alliance requested a public meeting which will take place on Feb. 9th.

Your comments will be considered by Parks and Rec staff in the creation of the final Dog Park Master Plan recommendations. The adopted Master Plan will be the “blue print” for selection and development of future dog parks and off-leash sites (not enclosed, not fenced).