Editorial: Dog owners must abide by regulations to keep trails safe for everybody
Spring is in the air.
And in Park City, that means recreaters have packed away their ski gear and have readied their mountain bikes and hiking boots. The warmer weather also brings the return of an annual trend: an uptick in incidents involving off-leash dogs on the trails.
Already this spring, there have been multiple reports of off-leash dogs injuring or presenting a hazard for recreaters. So a reminder to pet owners to take appropriate precautions when they take Fido for an adventure seems to be in order.
According to City Hall’s off-leash area regulations, those precautions include carrying a leash at all times just in case it’s needed, ensuring dogs are trained to respond to their owners through voice and visual commands and harnessing dogs that display any signs of aggression. And it should go without saying — but sometimes doesn’t — that letting dogs wander in areas where leashes are required is never acceptable. (Owners should also clean up after their dogs, per City Hall, and that means taking the effort to actually place used bags in the garbage cans — but that’s another matter entirely.)
In the interest of their own safety, people recreating in areas where off-leash dogs are permitted also shoulder some responsibility to protect themselves. They should understand that even well-behaved dogs can be unpredictable under the right circumstances and prepare accordingly. That means always being alert for roaming pets.
In fairness, the vast majority of dog owners abide by the rules. Given the sheer number of dogs in the Park City area, the amount of problems on the trails is relatively low. Everyone who recreates here appreciates the efforts most owners take to ensure the good behavior of their pets. But all it takes is one person disregarding the regulations for an incident to occur. And in the case of bicyclists, in particular, even a momentary lapse can cause serious injury.
We are fortunate in Park City to have a wealth of recreational opportunities, and our sprawling trail system is a major part of what makes this a special place to live. But that comes with responsibility. Parkites who bring their pups on the trails must take extra care so everyone can safely enjoy our outdoor amenities without fear of incident.
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