Dog owners ask panel to retool proposals

Citizens speak out against recommendations to limit dogs on city, state trails

Posted: Friday, September 10, 2004

JoAnne Craig complains that the city's Dog Task Force is not dog-friendly.

"The dog task force focuses on the negative impacts of dogs," said Craig, who owns two dogs. "They are closing the trails unnecessarily."

At the task force's public hearing Thursday, Craig was one of the many dog owners who spoke against the task force's draft recommendations to close some of Juneau's 118 state and city trails to dogs.

The city formed the 11-member task force in October of 2003.

Earlier that year the city Parks and Recreation staff had proposed limiting dogs on the Rainforest Trail. But city staff members were so overwhelmed with comments about other dog-related issues that they left the Rainforest Trail as it is, with dogs on-leash, and created a task force to examine the broader dog-related issues.

Whether dogs should be on leash or not allowed on trails is the task force's focus.

The task force recommends that dogs be on leash on most city-owned trails and off leash on some, such as Kaxdigoowu Heen Dei Hiking Trail (or Brotherhood Bridge) and Outer Point Loop Trail.

The task force also suggests that certain areas, such as Auke Lake Trail and Fish Creek Park East Pond Dike Trail, should be dog-free.

These are unwelcome restrictions for many dog owners.

"As a home owner and property tax payer, I am concerned that the city is building trails that I may not be able to use," said Twin Lakes resident Vicky McLaughlin. "If the city is building trails for people only, I want the city to build trails for dogs only."

Dog owner Judy Fletcher said dogs should be off-leash to exercise and socialize.

"Dogs that are always tightly restrained on a leash not only are restricted from normal interactions with others, but they also never learn to control their own behavior," Fletcher said.

The dog task force will continue receiving comments until Sept. 24. The task force will have a public meeting on Oct. 14.

Task force member Sue McGregor acknowledged that the task force hasn't articulated convincing reasons for the regulations.

"We still have a lot of work to be done," McGregor said.

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