Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Winstead Park Off Leash Proposal to be Heard Thursday, July 16

Hi All-

This is sort of short notice, but I'm sure that written testimony will be accepted too. The Winstead Park proposal included a request for times to be set aside for off leash activity. If you think this is a good idea- for the parks or the trails- now is the time to speak up.

Off Leash Dog Activity is important to a lot of dog owners, it's important for us to be educated and support the ideas that we think have merit. Please read the proposal and make your comments.


----- Forwarded Message ----
Sent: Monday, July 13, 2009 5:52:02 PM
Subject: Winstead Dog Off Leash Area Proposal Decision to be Made by Parks & Recreation Commission

The Parks & Recreation Commission will discuss the Winstead Neighborhood proposal for dog off leash use at Winstead Park at their July 16, 2009 meeting.

The meeting will be held at 4 pm at the Boise City Library Auditorium - West Entrance.

Public comment will be taken at the meeting.

Jamie Heinzerling
Administrative Assistant
Boise Parks & Recreation Department
(208) 384 - 4060 ext. 333

Here is the Proposal:

To: Mr. Jim Hall, Director, Boise Parks & Recreation
Mayor David H. Bieter
Boise Parks & Recreation Commissioners

From: Winstead Neighborhood Dog Owners
PO Box 46021
Boise, Id. 83711
attn: Kristi Rutty or Betsy Lewis

Proposal: An amendment to the leash law [Section 13-03-06 DOGS] with Boise Parks and Recreation District and the City of Boise, for all appropriate parks.

Specifics: Instead of spending money on fences or new dog areas, use existing parks with specific off-leash hours: During Daylight Savings: 8 p.m. until dark, dawn until 9 a.m. ---- During Standard Time/Winter [when the park is virtually empty], daylight hours.

Costs: Minimal—signage and some more dog-waste stations with trash cans at each site. For example, a can is needed in the far corner of Winstead where there is a post with bags, yet no place to dispose of them.

Purpose: An off-leash program allows Boiseans to recreate with their dogs throughout the community while balancing the interests of all voting taxpayers and park users. Dog owners are the most frequent visitors to Boise’s beautiful parks, utilizing them in all four seasons, in all types of weather, and every day of the year.

Studies show that dogs are highly social animals. When allowed regular, outdoor off-leash exercise they tend to be better trained and socialized, calmer, and less prone to aggression, thus adding to the quality of life in the communities where they live. In contrast, those constantly kept on leash tend to be more territorial, more aggressive and more prone to negative social behavior.

Off-leash hours in Boise would allow people to walk to their neighborhood green spaces instead of having to drive across town to the official “dog parks”: These fenced areas are dangerous for puppies, elderly dogs, and smaller breeds because of the large ones racing around. Try throwing a ball—it’s a stampede!

It’s unreasonable to expect people to “seek out a rancher with lots of land so the dogs can run,” as one officer suggested while ticketing a middle-aged couple.

Fallout of Boise’s leash enforcement: Friendships develop among neighbors who gather to throw Frisbees and tennis balls and to walk their animals. Sadly, this is no longer possible. The citations have caused such a feeling of ill will among Boiseans who’ve been enjoying Winstead for two decades, without trouble, that many have stopped using the park; others no longer donate to the Humane Society. Though we police one another, cleaning up after our own dogs [and others!], and we’re considerate toward other park users, we now feel like criminals.

Successful cities:
<> New York City, NY—The Off-leash Hours in Central Park are from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. “During the dark days of New York’s decline when few people used the parks in the evening or early morning due to crime and fear, the presence of dog owners every day of the year helped reclaim the parks.” The Off-leash policy allows a few hours each day for dog owners to meet their neighbors “across social, age, class and racial lines, and enjoy recreation time with their dogs.” This has succeeded for the past 20 years.

<> Bend, Oregon—The Bend Metro Park and Recreation District voted recently to expand its only existing off-leash park and to add six others, after a scientific study in May of 2008 showed that “off-leash recreation is a highly desired park use that is not currently being met.”

Suggestions for Off-leash Rules [hours to be posted at each site]:
~ Display tags showing current rabies vaccination and city license
~ Pick up and dispose of your dog’s waste
~ Carry a leash for each dog in your care
~ Supervise your dog, keeping it in sight and under verbal control at all times
~ Do not bring a dog in heat to any park
~ Immediately remove any dog that demonstrates aggression
~ Leash your dog when near any playground or picnickers

Winstead Neighborhood Dog Owners

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