Does Seattle need more off-leash dog parks?

KING 5's Ted Land reports.

Dog owners will soon have an opportunity to tell the City of Seattle about their desire for more off-leash parks. A public hearing will stir up a lot of opinions this week as the parks department makes plans for how to handle an ongoing influx of people and pets.

“It would be nice to have more parks, more access to parks,” said Les Anderson, who spent Sunday morning at the Westcrest Park off-leash area with his dog Amy.

“Without an off-leash dog park I wouldn’t be able to have a big dog,” said Kimarie Wooding, who was playing with Ned, her German Shepard.

The city wants feedback on its draft People, Dogs and Parks Strategic Plan, which is meant to help figure out how to manage the needs of Seattle's growing dog population.

A public hearing is scheduled for Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. at the Miller Community Center in Capitol Hill.

Among the draft recommendations – fixing up existing off-leash areas and gradually adding new ones. The plan currently opposes adding more off-leash areas with beach access, and it does not recommend leash-optional trails.

Enforcement strategies are also under review. The city now has a dog park patrol team for the first time since the mid-1990s. A two-person team has been making the rounds through Seattle’s 14 off-leash areas since March, enforcing the rules and writing citations.

A group called Citizens for the Protection of Volunteer Park recently posted signs on Capitol Hill opposing off-leash areas in the historic greenspace.

“We do not advocate for a dog park in Volunteer Park, we honestly do not know where that came out of,” said Cole Eckerman, executive director of Citizens for Off-Leash Areas.

She said the group would rather get a commitment from the city to fund dog park construction in Southeastgetty Seattle, where dog owners don’t have many off-leash opportunities.

“When you don’t have enough dog parks the result is every area becomes a de facto off-leash area, we don’t want that,” Eckerman said.

“We want dogs in legally designated areas, but we don’t have enough of those right now,” she said.

Copyright 2016 KING


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