To the Editor:
A young girl rides her bike down 11th Street with her leashed pup running along beside her. Coming up on the opposite side of the road is a man walking his dog off-leash. The off-leash dog dashes across the road in front of a car to say hello to the on-leash pup. The off-leash dog circles the bike, chasing the leashed pup around the bike, entangling the bike in the leash and sending the girl to the ground. The whole episode took less than a minute to unfold and could only have been avoided if this uncontrolled dog had been on a leash.
There have been a number of incidents in Golden over the past few years that have involved off-leash dogs. These include conflicts between dogs, between dogs and people, and dogs being lost, preyed upon, or injured by vehicles. As Golden is known as a dog friendly community, we must ponder on why we are having trouble keeping our pets and people safe.
Currently, Golden has designated on-leash areas that include the main strip, a small section of the Rotary Trail along the river, and Highway 95. In all areas outside the designated on-leash areas, dogs are permitted to be off-leash. Off-leash areas include residential streets (including most of busy 9th Street, 12th Street, and 5th Avenue), parks, almost all of the Rotary Trail, and all other areas that are not subject to the on-leash by-law.
For good reason, most towns and cities have by-laws in place that help keep dogs and people safe by dictating where owners can let their dogs off-leash. Usually this means designated fenced-in dog parks (e.g. Cranbrook). However, some towns have designated natural off-leash areas (e.g. Revelstoke). Considering Golden’s large dog community and extensive natural spaces, Golden would benefit from having both a well thought out permanent dog park (with access to water and a technical play area) and a designated natural off-leash area. The remaining areas within Golden, including all residential streets, must be subject to an on-leash by-law.
By designating a few select areas as “off-leash” while adopting an overall “on-leash” by-law, we can help keep our dogs happy, stress-free, and safe. On-leash areas help keep dogs safe from vehicles and keep dogs and people safe from poorly trained or aggressive dogs.
A number of local dog owners have suggested the following areas as desirable off-leash areas: walking trail from 14th Street, along train tracks, to airport; walking trail from 13th Street, up past cemetery, and down to Reflection Lake. Suggestions for a fenced-in permanent dog park include improving the current location on 12th Street or developing a new dog park in the empty lot across from Reflection Lake.
Add your name to the petition “Improve Golden’s On-Leash By-law” and show your support for keeping dogs and people safe in Golden: http://chng.it/wJKHTBt9 . Petition open to residents of Golden only.