Dogs to get their days at local parks

August 27, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

Good news, Hagerstown dogs and dog owners: Canines will be allowed on the fringes of two Hagerstown parks starting Sept. 26, courtesy of a unanimous decision made by the Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday.

Under a one-year trial period, dogs will be allowed on roads and sidewalks bordering Hagerstown City Park, on the walking track bordering Fairgrounds Park and along the perimeter of the park, City Administrative Services Director John Budesky said. The dogs must be on leashes no longer than 6 feet, Budesky said.

No dogs will be allowed in the central areas of either park.

At the end of the trial period, the council will decide whether to continue allowing dogs in the parks.

The council approved introduction of the ordinance at its July regular meeting and approved the ordinance Tuesday.

The goal was to find a way to meet the interests of responsible dog owners while keeping in mind that some people are afraid 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.

Questions about the rule prohibiting dogs in the parks arose after Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire said at a June meeting that for safety reasons he sometimes walks his dog on City Park land.

The ordinance carries a fine of $50 per infraction for dog owners who walk their pets in parks and locations that do not permit such activity, those who do not responsibly clean up after their dogs and those who walk their dogs without a leash.

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, 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 in some parts of the parks.

Ordinance guidelines

Guidelines of the dog-walking ordinance:

  • Owners are required to immediately clean up after their dogs. Failure to do so could result in a fine.

  • Dogs with a known history of, or that exhibit, dangerous behavior are prohibited.

  • Dogs must be healthy, fully immunized, de-wormed, licensed and must wear ID tags.

  • Adults are required to accompany those younger than 12 who are walking dogs; young children must be closely supervised.

  • Dogs in heat are prohibited.
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