City should rethink ban of dogs from trail

City should rethink ban of dogs from trail

Regarding the North Mountain Park trail closure to dogs: There are a number of important omissions and concerns that are not being addressed by the parks commission and the city of Ashland. Even though these concerns have been reported to the parks commission, mayor and City Council, they continue to be ignored. The current policies regarding dog-accessible parks and walking trails are overly restrictive and not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Areas listed in a May 27 Daily Tidings article as dog friendly walking areas are in mountainous areas not accessible to individuals with handicaps and many senior citizens who want to take their dogs for a walk. The Siskiyou Mountain Park and Oredson-Todd Woods, areas mentioned in the May 28 article, are not suitable walking trails for individuals with physical challenges. In addition, many of the trails in the Siskiyou Mountain Park are in isolated areas that are not comfortable walking areas for some. No phone cell service is available in cases of emergency. These areas do not have bathroom facilities for individuals walking their dogs, picnic tables or drinking water — amenities available in city parks. Bear Creek Greenway, another area mentioned for walking dogs, can also present challenges to individuals who find it difficult to share the path with bike riders that travel at a fast pace and whiz by walkers without signaling their intent to pass.

In these economic times with kennels and dog sitting services charging $30 to $75 a day for boarding dogs, many families are not financially able to leave their dogs at home. As more and more tourists are traveling with their pets, this makes Ashland a less-desirable destination for many dog owners. This is magnified during the summer months, when tourists traveling by car must leave their dogs in cars because there is not one park where they can take their pet and have a picnic, use a bathroom or get water. It can take as little as 15 minutes for a dog to die in a closed car.

Ashland parks are marked with "No Animal" signs. This is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as service dogs are allowed in parks. Signs in parks should acknowledge this exception.

In investigating more than 2,000 cities, including cities in Oregon that have city parks, I have found that Ashland has the most restrictive policies regarding walking leashed dogs in public parks of any city. Most cities provide doggy waste bags and waste cans in parks to assist dog owners in keeping parks pristine.

In the spirit of servicing all citizens who pay for the parks, the city of Ashland should revise its policies to provide areas in city parks where all citizens can enjoy a park with their dogs. If dog owners do not follow the rules they can be fined. All dog owners should not punished for the actions of a few.

Stefani Seffinger

Ashland