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Council supports dogs in park

July 02, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

A City of Hagerstown proposal that would allow dogs on leashes on the perimeters of two city parks moved a step closer to approval Tuesday, with the City Council passing a resolution in support of the idea.

An ordinance approving the proposal, effective for a one-year trial period, will go to the council for a vote in the next few weeks, said John Budesky, the city's director of administrative services.

Under the proposal, dogs would be allowed on roads and sidewalks bordering Hagers-town City Park, on the walking track bordering Fairgrounds Park, and along the perimeters of the park, provided they are on leashes of a maximum length of 6 feet, Budesky said.

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No dogs would be allowed within the core area of either park.

The goal is to find a way to meet the interests of responsible dog owners while keeping in mind that some people, particularly children, are scared of dogs, Budesky said.

Although the city has a rule that no dogs are allowed in its parks, Budesky said no enforceable law exists to keep dog walkers from using them. With the proposed ordinance, the city would have a way of better protecting its citizens, he said.

Questions about the rule prohibiting dogs in the parks arose in recent weeks after Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire announced at a June meeting that he sometimes walks his dog on City Park land for safety reasons, along with other residents, Budesky said

Before 1983, the Hagerstown Parks Board had the authority to prohibit activity in the parks and the police enforced park board rules, including the prohibition of dogs, Mayor William Breichner has said. In 1983, the park board became an advisory body and some of its authority was lost.

The City of Hagerstown's Parks and Recreation Advisory Board discussed the issue at its June 19 meeting and expressed support for allowing dogs at some parts of the parks.

The proposal suggests a $50 fine per infraction for dog owners who walk their dogs in nonpermitted parks and locations, dog owners who do not responsibly clean up after their dogs and dog owners who walk their dogs off the leash




City's proposed guidelines for behavior of dogs and owners:


1. Owners are legally responsible for their dogs and any injuries caused by their dogs.

2. Owners must remain in the permitted perimeter areas of their park.

3. Dogs must be leashed at all times. Leashes are to be a maximum of 6 feet in length.

4. Owners must immediately clean up after their dogs. Failure to do so can result in a fine.

5. Dogs with a known history of, or who exhibit, dangerous behavior are prohibited.

6. Dogs must be healthy, fully immunized, de-wormed, licensed and wearing ID tags.

7. An adult must accompany children under 12 years of age; young children must be closely supervised

8. Dogs in heat are prohibited.

9. Only two dogs per person are allowed at one time.

10. Dogs must be watched at all times.

11. Cooperation between dog owners is essential.

Source: City of Hagerstown documents

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