Park City outlines ‘etiquette & expectations’ of off-leash areas
City Hall wants to ensure Park City dog owners are aware there are rules in the two off-leash areas created earlier in the year.
The Park City Council designated the municipal acreage in Round Valley and a part of the field outside the Park City Library as off-leash areas. But the elected officials also instituted rules in both places in an attempt to ensure the dog owners and others who use the locations do not come in conflict.
City Hall recently posted a rundown of the rules as well as a video explaining proper behavior to the municipal website. The posting is part of the efforts to explain the off-leash areas in a publicity blitz that started shortly after the locations were approved early in 2016.
The municipal government headlined the posting "Off-Leash Dog Etiquette & Expectations." It cautions that dog owners must "comply with all rules and regulations to enjoy this privilege."
Many of the points in the document were covered as Mayor Jack Thomas and the City Council considered creating the off-leash areas. The posting, though, provides perhaps the best explanation published by City Hall.
The posting, critically, addresses the idea of what is known as voice and sight control. A dog in the off-leash areas is required to remain under voice and sight control at all times. It offers a detailed explanation of voice and sight control.
Some of the points regarding voice and sight control include that a dog that does not "charge, chase, or otherwise display aggression" toward someone "in a manner that a reasonable person would find harassing or disturbing." A dog is also not allowed to act in the same manner toward other dogs or chase or harass wildlife. A dog must return to its owner and stay "immediately upon command by owner," the document says.
The posting, meanwhile, outlines other rules in the off-leash areas. Important ones include a requirement that dog owner carry a leash and that an electronic collar is not a substitute for a leash. Someone also cannot be in an off-leash area with five or more unleashed dogs at once. An owner must also take care of dog waste. Another rule requires that a dog be on a leash when they are within 150 feet of a trailhead.
Park City leaders designated the off-leash areas as part of a pilot program that is expected to be reviewed later in the year. The off-leash areas were created partly in response to increased enforcement of leash laws by Summit County Animal Control. There was widespread support for the off-leash areas among dog owners with a smattering of opposition. Dogs were regularly seen off leash in Round Valley and the field outside the library prior to the designation of the off-leash areas.
A task force that was seated as part of the decision to create the off-leash areas is studying a range of issues related to the areas, including the prospects of designating more places as off-leash locations and areas where dogs could be prohibited.
Charlie Sturgis, the executive director of the advocacy group Mountain Trails Foundation and a member of the task force, said the City Hall posting regarding the off-leash areas is part of the outreach efforts.
"It’s simply awareness, a heightened awareness, of what dog owners’ responsibilities really are," Sturgis said.
If the rules are followed, he said, it could "keep the heat off dog owners."
Sturgis said the most common violation of the rules he has observed involves the requirement that a dog be kept on a leash within 150 feet of a trailhead.
"If you keep control of them, there’s less conflict," Sturgis said.
The "Off-Leash Dog Etiquette & Expectations" posting is available on City Hall’s website at: http://www.parkcity.org/about-us/open-space-and-trails/dogs/off-leash-dog-etiquette-expectations.
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