Park City students explore off-leash dog issue |

Park City students explore off-leash dog issue

Ranger Robotics, a Lego robotics team of Park City children, is doing a research project for an upcoming competition that aims to tackle a big issue: off-leash dogs. They say their ultimate goal is to reduce the number of people in town who have negative interactions with unleashed dogs.

The Ranger Robotics team, a collection of nearly 10 Park City students, has been building a Lego robot for months, designing it to perform a series of simple tasks more quickly than the robots it will square off against in competitions this winter.

More importantly than building the robot, though, is something else they've been working on just as hard. The team is doing a research project about off-leash dogs in Park City as part of its requirement to participate in the First Lego League. In addition to judging how the team's robot performs in competition, the league will evaluate Rangers Robotics on the research project.

With that in mind, Ranger Robotics is asking the Park City community to help. It has designed a survey for residents to take in order for the team to find out more about the problems off-leash dogs can cause and how often they happen. After the survey is finished, the team intends to come up with a plan of how it can help solve the issue and ensure fewer people in the area have negative interactions with unleashed dogs.

Tabitha Sublette, one of the students on the team, said building the robot has been fun — but doing the research project has been even better because they can make a difference in the community. In fact, that's why they chose the explore the issue of off-leash dogs in the first place.

"That is sort of a local problem, but also a worldwide problem in certain place," she said. "It's easier to do here than a worldwide problem that may not affect our area."

The early returns from the survey have been illuminating. Sublette said most people who have responded have leashed their dogs, either all the time or some of the time. Others said they don't think it's important to leash their dogs, even in public places that mandate leashing.

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Danielle Kroll, another member of the team, said many people who have taken the survey have reported that they've had negative encounters with unleashed dogs. She's hoping they can use the results of the survey to show residents that leashing their dogs is important.

"It is a pretty big issue," she said. "We've had over 100 people do the survey. … Half of it is just making people aware that there have been problems. If we have this survey, that's proof that there have been problems."

Gail Stucker, a parent coach of the team, said it's been exciting to see the kids engaged in an important topic.

"They really wanted to be involved in a local issue," she said. "That was of really high value to them. So they're really energized about this particular issue and wanting to make a difference in our community."

Residents interested in taking the Rangers Robotics' survey about off-leash dogs can do so at