There can be a compromise in dispute over leash laws |

There can be a compromise in dispute over leash laws

The Park Record Editorial, March 9-12, 2013

Given the mediocre amount of snow the Park City area has received this winter, it was not unexpected that hikers would head onto the trails perhaps a little earlier than usual.

It was also not a total surprise to hear of a confrontation in the latter days of February between a cross-country skier and a person with a dog off its leash in Round Valley, one of the fissure points in the long-running dispute about leash laws.

The confrontation, very brief and apparently involving a ski pole, occurred on a trail in the vicinity of the Quinn’s Junction fields complex. After the incident, the cross-country skier waited in a parking lot for the person with the dog, words were exchanged and, according to the report to the police, the man said he had a gun and could shoot the dog.

If what was reported to the police is accurate, it would be a disheartening start to a season when Parkites and their dogs head onto the trails in greater numbers than in the winter. It also illustrates what has been a long-running division in the community centered on leash laws.

Leash laws are in effect in public places throughout Park City and Summit County with the exception of official dog parks. It is simple: The laws say unless a dog is on someone’s private property or in a dog park, the dog must be leashed.

In practice, though, leash laws have been only occasionally enforced. Dog-owning Parkites, especially, would be perturbed if the leash laws ever did become a priority for law enforcement. From the green space outside the Park City Library and Education Center to the Rail Trail, dogs are often seen off their leashes, enjoying time with their owners.

A compromise could be possible, but it is not clear whether any of the sides would be willing to reach an accord. Perhaps, on a trial basis at the outset, Park City could explore the idea of relaxing the leash law on an every-other-day basis in a certain location. Round Valley would be the obvious choice for a trial, given its popularity with dog owners and its semi-remote location.

Otherwise, we worry, a confrontation like the one in February, if not worse, could be approaching.

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