Janesville52°

Should city allow dogs in parks?

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Greg Peck
April 9, 2013

When my wife and I visited San Francisco last year, we marveled at how open that city’s parks system is to dogs. Residents take their pets to most parks without problems or conflicts. We didn’t see any snarling dogs, nor did we notice feces lying around. We instead saw a relaxed atmosphere as park-goers visited with dog owners and their pooches. Some people obviously engaged in walking services were exercising four or more dogs at a time.

We realize, however, that Janesville is not San Francisco. Too many dog lovers fail to pick up after their pets. I walk my dog daily and always carry a bag with me. From time to time, I see feces left in yards, in parks, on terraces and even on sidewalks. A few irresponsible dog owners can ruin things for everyone.

For more than 40 years, Janesville has allowed dogs in parks and on trails only from Sept. 15 to May 15. The city has three year-round dog exercise areas—38 acres in Palmer Park, 217 acres at the Rock River Parkway and the fenced, fee-based Paw Print Park within Prairie Knoll Park. All are in the city’s southern half.

The idea of changing the ordinance to allow dogs in parks and on trails year-round came from Council President Kathy Voskuil and Councilman Matt Kealy. Three residents spoke at a public hearing Monday, and just one favored the change. A former Alaska resident said she thought it was a joke when told of the summertime ban and then figured it must be a rule from a bygone era.

The council took no action. A second public hearing will come April 22, after newly elected council members are seated.

Parks Director Tom Presny opposes the change, and so does the leisure services committee, which voted 5-1 against the idea.

Is this ordinance change a good idea? Can a compromise be found? We’ll share our perspectives in our editorial Wednesday.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook



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