Dogs in our parks

Running around Lake Estes, Estes Park, CO, with Tavi.

How many dogs are in Logan, UT?  Nobody knows for sure, but a formula developed by the American Veterinary Medical Association calculates about 7000 households owning a dog and a dog population over 11,000 for a city of its size.

In Logan, all dogs over four months of age are required to be registered with the city’s Division of Animal Control, and registrations are supposed to be renewed yearly.  In 2017, there were 1383 dog tags sold.  In 2016, the number was 1437.

It appears that the vast majority of dogs in Logan are unlicensed.  Since all dogs older than four months are required to be vaccinated for rabies, with the vaccination tag attached to a collar with the current year's dog tag, I suspect many of these animals are not vaccinated as well.

There are a number of dog owners who would like the city to allow dogs in our public parks.  They claim Logan’s policies are not dog-friendly, in part because there are limited public areas where dogs are permitted.  The parks, after all, belong to us all.  If so, why can’t all residents, with and without dogs, enjoy them?

I live near a city park, and every day I see a few people with dogs playing in the park, even with the “no dogs allowed” signs.  Enforcement is lax, and I’m not troubled by that.  Our men and women in blue have more important things to do than chase down people with their dogs, especially when dogs are leashed and errant poo is picked up.  In fact, if all dog owners were considerate, I think people would be much more receptive to dogs in parks.

So here are my recommendations for demonstrating consideration, for all dog owners.

  Don’t depend on the city to provide you with poo bags, poo bag stations, or waste receptacles for used bags.  If you can’t collect and dispose of your animal’s waste in a proper fashion, you are not demonstrating the capability to care for your animal in an urban environment.  Provide your own bags so you will always have them on hand. Be prepared to carry a used bag until you find a proper waste receptacle, even if it means bringing it back home with you. 


  Maintain control of your dog at all times.  Do not remove your leash on a trail or in a park.  You cannot know with certainty how your animal will respond to people, to wildlife, to noise, or to other dogs.  You cannot know whether a person you meet on the trail is afraid of dogs or loves dogs.  Let people approach your dog, and not vice versa.  Maintaining control means you are alert to conditions in your immediate environment and where you are headed.

  Use the two off-leash dog parks in town (the Cache Humane Society’s Valley View Dog Park and Logan’s Rendezvous Park) when you want Fido to run wild and free.

  As a member of the “dog community,” recognize your role as an ambassador.  That means self-policing your community of dog owners.  Speak up when dogs are unrestrained, or poo bags aren’t used.  Be hyper-vigilant of children who may be terrified of a dog as large or larger than they are, running toward them or barking.  And encourage all to get their dogs licensed and vaccinated.

Caroline with Nahla in Peru.

  Be aware that service dogs are not “pets.”  They are considered an extension of their owners, and as such they deserve special consideration and flexibility. 

I love seeing well-behaved dogs on leash in Logan.  It adds to the flavor of our community, as a place that is welcoming to the vast number of dog owners.  For me, meeting a well-behaved dog on a trail is a positive experience.  However, when the majority of animals are not licensed, poo bags are left on the ground (or not used), and I see dogs running unleashed, I don’t sense a commitment to considerate behavior.  Before dogs are allowed in our parks, dog owners need to step up their game.


This opinion piece was published in the Herald Journal.


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