in Parks and Rec, Politics, Raleigh

Dogs in parks

This month, the Raleigh Parks, Recreation, and Greenway Advisory Board (PRGAB) votes on a proposed ordinance prohibiting dogs from certain areas of parks. There are plenty of proponents and opponents for this new ordinance and it’s been difficult finding the right balance.

One of the PRGAB’s committees, the Greenways and Urban Trees Committee (GWUT), is recommending the ordinance be passed in its entirety. Dog owners have pleaded to continue being able to use athletic fields to exercise their dogs.

Everyone agrees that Raleigh has a shortage of dog parks. Until we can add more, I think it’s fair to make allowances for dog owners who have no other place to go. Therefore, rather than recommend restricting dogs from certain areas of all city parks, I will recommend the board allow for staff to allow dogs on fields where posted signs specifically allow it. As the city phases in more dog parks, we can move dogs to those parks and off athletic fields.

Incidentally, I had forgotten the extent of the role I played in bringing this about. A friend in the Oakwood neighborhood had a frightening encounter with an unleashed dog in Oakwood mini-park in April 2012 and it was I who brought it to the attention of Parks staff, who promptly added it to our work plan:

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Commons Park at Corner Boundary & East
Date: Wed, 04 Apr 2012 06:38:55 -0400
From: Mark Turner
To: Schindler, Wayne
CC: Diane Sauer

Good morning, Wayne,

This is a chronic problem with the little park in Historic Oakwood (corner of Boundary and Bloodworth): dog owners taking their dogs off leash.

One neighbor suggested (in addition to calling 911 whenever a dog owner does not leash her dog upon request) a sign be put up pointing those dog owners to the nearby Oakwood Park Dog Park. I don’t necessarily want to be putting up more signs everywhere but maybe something more could be done here.

Is this something that you and/or the department can look into?



——– Original Message ——–

I hesitated to post this on the listserve but I felt I had to. I was walking my dog by the park today and out runs a large black dog. (Gate was left open) I had to grab my dog up to prevent an encounter between the two. The owner of the dog had the dog in the park (NOT ON A LEASH). The owner did not make a single move to contain her dog or apoligize.
After taking my dog back home I returned to the park to remind the owner that a leash is required in the park but she had left. There was a young lady there that was present when the incident happened. She was sitting for someone. She did say she had asked the lady to put the dog on the leash because the girls were afraid of dogs. The lady responded that she guess they would not be coming in. She informed the sitter that the dogs were harmless. The question is: What can we do as residents of Oakwood about people that refuse to obey our obvious rule of “Dogs to be on leash” What kind of enforcement do we have. The park as I understand it is not to be used as if it is someone’s personal pet backyard with their animals roaming in and out of the park. After you remind someone that a leash is required what can be done if they refuse? What recourse is there for violaters? Thanks for any information to prevent an incident like today from happening again. Someone might think they know their dog but at least if the dog is on a leash they have some control of their pet. Thank you

So much time had passed that I’d forgotten my involvement. Now that my memory’s been refreshed I do see the need to do something, but a total restriction might not be needed.

Update 10:30 AM: Reading the recommendation of the GWUT committee, it appears the proposed ordinance already offers the kind of freedom parks staff needs to decide what’s what:

“Areas designated by City Council as dog exercise and play areas shall be exempted per Ordinance No 2013-157.”

I don’t know if the City Council needs to take this up every time more dog areas are needed, I think it should be safe for Council to delegate this to the PRGAB. I suppose the ordinance can stand as written if the Council is amenable to letting PRGAB to the dog-park work first (and I think they should be).