The Moscow City Council voted unanimously to designate the field area of Mountain View Park as an off-leash area for dogs Monday.
This change has been discussed since residents approached city staff in February due to the apparent overuse of the current one-acre dog park.
Parks and Recreation Director Dwight Curtis proposed the change to the council. He said the decision is experimental and can be reversed if it doesn’t work.
“I think in this particular case, what’s being asked for is to give them a shot — see if it works,” Curtis said. “Make them prove that it doesn’t work. And if it doesn’t work, then we’ll change it back.”
Curtis said many of the current rules will still apply, including barring the allowance of off-leash dogs at Mountain View Park and the need for owners to have their dogs under voice control. For example owners are required to carry a leash at all times, and all dogs must be licensed and vaccinated.
The only times owners will not be allowed to use the park as an off-leash area is when the city holds activities on the field, or when it’s closed.
Curtis said although other cities do fine with off-leash areas, there could be potential problems with the change.
“Anytime you have a dog that’s off-leash, I mean, sometimes nature just does its thing,” Curtis said. “There are some unpredictable things that can happen. I know this proposal is not for dogs that aren’t trained under voice control. This is not meant for everybody in town to take their dogs there and let them off-leash … So, if a person has a dog that is trained under voice control and they’re willing to go and give this a try, then great. If it doesn’t work for them, they should not come back with their dog off the leash.”
A number of dog owners attended the meeting to support the proposed change. Many of them said they have used the park as an off-leash area for many years without incident.
Sandi Billings of Northwest Public Radio said dogs are part of residents’ families and need the park to be as accessible for dogs as they are for children.
“We want our dogs to also have the good things, like exercise and socialization,” Billings said. “Because socialization and exercise makes for really good canine citizens as well.”
While the Council agreed the change would be good for the city, they admitted their hesitance in allowing it.
Councilman Wayne Krauss voiced his concerns about the change.
“My question is, can dogs and people co-exist in this park?” Krauss said. “Because this is a people park first, and it’s a dog park second. And it really scares me to think about 1,000 dogs in that park at any given time. I mean, I’m even concerned about 100 dogs.”
The Council assured the public that the change can be overturned as quickly as it passed.
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