Anti-dog park advocate pushes for people-only parks, fewer dogs

As dog advocates push for more off-lease areas, one dissenter pushes for a different, extreme approach.

Ellen Taft, president of Citizens for the Protection of Volunteer Park, will speak at the Parks Board Commission Thursday to ask for more regulations in off-leash areas.

Among her requests, Taft is advocating for dog-free parks, including parks with beaches. Taft also proposes limiting households to one dog, instead of three, and banning dog walkers, unlicensed dogs, and pit bulls from using off-leash areas.

The city has asked for feedback on its draft People, Dogs, and Parks Strategic Plan, which will help manage the city’s growing dog population.

According to Animal Control, about 40,000 dogs are licensed in the city. However, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation estimates Seattle’s dog population is closer to 160,000 when accounting for unlicensed dogs and Seattle’s population.

Taft argues in a release that if public land has been reserved for off-leash areas, the same percentage of land should be reserved for people-only parks. Taft also raised concerns about toxins in dog feces that could pollute water and harm children.

Groups, such as Citizens for Off-Leash Areas (COLA), have fought for more off-leash areas to offers pets across the city a safe place to roam free. Taft counters that Seattle should lower its dog population, instead of increasing off-leash areas.

There are currently 14 off-lease areas in Seattle.

Taft has a history with dog attacks. In 1991, her 10-month-old child was attacked by three dogs in Volunteer Park wading pool, and Taft has been chased by dogs several times while running.

The Parks Commission will meet Thursday, Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Miller Community Center.

Copyright 2016 KING


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