Here's a Dog Task Force update

Posted: Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Doggie Do'sBy Linda Shipman

The CBJ Dog Task Force (DTF) has worked for more than a year on the issue of dogs in public spaces and incorporated public comment received this summer into final recommendations, found at www.juneau.lib.ak.us /parksrec/DTF/pdfs/ DTF-Final-Recommendations-Oct-04.pdf.

These areas will remain dog free: the future Auke Lake Trail, the new trail constructed behind DZ Middle School, the loop trail between the police station and Egan Drive, and Fish Creek's new spur trail on the East Pond Dike.

The following areas remain on-leash: Brotherhood Bridge/Kax Trail (asphalt) after 8am; Switzer Creek meadows; and Twin Lakes from the parking lot to the north end of the open grass area (Jupiter on the path) at all times, and from the end of the open grass area to where both lakes join from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

All other CBJ parks and lands will remain on-leash or under "competent voice control."

Further recommendations include:

1) CBJ ordinances revised to give the Parks and Recreation (P&R) Director authority to establish regulations for city parks and trails, reflecting DTF recommendations.

Kim Kiefer, P&R Director, observes, "Regulations are more adaptable. Municipal code sets the framework - the rigid bare bones. Regulations flesh it out, and they're easier to adapt to changes in our community. For instance, if we might secure some new land for a public trail or park. We can take issues back to the public for comment. This is a systematic, community process, which will run through P&R, ending up with the Assembly. We will notify the public of issues through media notices, e-mails, and the agendas on our website. Everyone is invited to comment, including Trail Mix, Grateful Dogs of Juneau, Capital Kennel Club of Juneau, neighborhood groups and others."

"Right now, we have a blanket MC that covers the entire city and borough. We can use the regulatory process to adopt rules for each trail or park. Also, as new knowledge becomes available, we may change the regulations. We now know that the fecal coliform levels in Twin Lakes are related to seasonal and weather changes. That's why we'll be loosening the Twin Lakes path rules to allow dogs there throughout the year. As our parks and trails change, our needs change. Regulations will change to match them."

2) Change MC wording from "off- leash" to "or under competent voice control."

Kiefer offers, "The MC currently calls for dogs on leash throughout the city and borough. Some areas will remain on-leash only. Other areas will be on-leash, unless the dog remains 'under competent voice control.'"

3) Definition of "competent voice control" means "all the following conditions have been met: a) person is with present with the dog and monitors all its activities, b) person is capable of directing all of animals movements and activities by voice commands, c) the animal under voice control follows all vocal commands quickly and accurately.

4) An Americorp volunteer will be hired for one year to serve as an educational coordinator.

The Gastineau Humane Society has written a job description and begun initial screening of applicants. This position will reside with GHS and provide education on how people and animals can interact in positive ways in public spaces. The Dog Task Force and others will interview and make the final decision on who will be hired.

5) Signage created to request "courtesy by all trail users," listing three or four basic rules to observe when using an area.

6) Year-round specific ball fields will be off-leash areas and not under voice control.

Kiefer explains, "These areas can be used to train dogs to be under competent voice control. Users must pick up after their dogs to retain the privilege of using these areas. More fields will be available from October 15 to March 15. For instance, Dimond Park's Field Three is right next to the parking lot. During the winter, owners can turn on car lights and play with their dogs easily.

Kiefer outlines the calendar for the coming eighteen months. "Hopefully, the Americorp volunteer will start working in the community next month. The DTF will also broaden its membership to include more representatives of the dog-owning public, as previous members decide whether to serve another year, and new members are invited aboard. They will meet the first three months of next year to consider how to implement recommendations. Subcommittees will work on revising codes and regulations. Proposed regulations will be taken to the Assembly for approval. The new regulations will begin summer, 2005. Next fall, we'll reassess how the changes have worked and make modifications over the winter."

Kiefer encourages the community to continue to work together on this issue. "We can't do this without public involvement. We all have to be responsible users of public spaces, dog owners and non-dog owners alike."



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