Anyone who knows me, knows I love dogs. Even if you do not know me well, you have probably heard about or seen a picture of my dogs – Trot and Wakefield. Whether they are with my family on a walk, barking at passersby at home, or sticking their heads out of the vehicle on a ride, they tend to get attention wherever they go. My dogs are like family, and I assume that is common with most dog owners. They are spoiled at home and mostly enjoy being outdoors on a walk, run, ride, or fetching a ball.
About a year ago, in response to a reoccurring problem with a dog owner at local athletic events, the City Council voted to tighten its leash law by requiring dogs to be controlled by a leash on public ways. This was a change from the previous ordinance which allowed a dog to be off leash if “at heal beside a competent person and obedient to that persons commands.”
Since that time, I have been in touch with dog owners who would like to see designated off-leash areas around the city for dogs. As we have seen, the Mill Park Dog Park continues to be a popular place for people to take their dogs. Because of this success, the City Council recently asked the Dog Park Advisory Committee (DPAC) to identify designated off-leash areas for dogs.
Realizing the financial situation in the city, and the importance of being frugal, it is important to mention that any additional off-leash area would not involve new costs to the city. The only infrastructure needed would be a public sign designating an area off-leash, along with the rules. For example, many residents walk through the nature trails behind Hodgkins School. Currently, the school is vacant and perhaps the fields would be an appropriate location for an off-leash area for dogs during certain times of the day.
The DPAC is in the early stages of identifying possible locations and rules. I would like to know what you think about it, or if you want to suggest a location.