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Dogs and Parks, Urbanization

Editor’s note: Last month we printed John Barber’s op-ed piece on dogs and parks, hoping to stimulate a conversation. We had one letter in favor of John’s views and one opposing view.

Just a short message to say I completely agree with the opinions expressed by John Barber in his ‘Dogs in Parks’ editorial (January 2016). As a frequent walker through all the Leschi Parks, and someone who actually LIKES dogs, I do find off-leash canines a problem. On roughly half of my walks (including last Sunday), I find myself charged by barking dogs, often accompanied by owners saying things like “he/she’s actually very friendly”, or “he/she won’t bother you”...too late, the adrenaline rush that accompanies a charging-barking dog has already ‘bothered me’ and DISRUPTED an otherwise endorphin-filled exercise excursion. Stepping in waste, especially in Frink and upper Leschi areas, is another common mess that some dog owner has left for me to clean up.

John sums things up succinctly in the last paragraph of the editorial when he states, “I believe that dogs outside should always be leashed”. Our “limited urban park lands” should be for the enjoyment of all - those with and without canine companions.

~Sue Moore, Leschi resident

It was your editor who disagreed (to some extent) with John. I do agree that dogs should be on leash in public spaces, which solves most of the problems that John brings up; but I felt John was not in favor of more off-leash areas and I found that troubling. We take our two rescue dogs to the Genesee off-leash area and have found that many other users of this area have also rescued dogs. When one rescues a dog, you get what you get and they are not always as well trained as one you raised yourself. We rescued two older dogs, well set in their ways, and they do need a fenced off-leash area. I also disagreed with his last idea: “Public policy should encourage residents to choose small, less needy of exercise, pets…” As an owner of two medium-sized dogs, I found this insulting. We tend to adopt breeds we are familiar with and understand their quirks to some extent. Should we only rescue small dogs? What does this do to the no-kill policy at shelters? Will they need bigger and bigger facilities to house the larger dogs as policy encourages urban dwellers to adopt only the small dogs that get their exercise walking to the food bowl? As for the off-leash areas, I love the camaraderie, as these folks are all dog lovers. It is good to see the rescued greyhound standing regally and watching the other dogs running madly around; one can imagine him saying to himself: “Been there, done that.” It’s also a good way to get one’s puppy socialized to other dogs.

Dog ownership is emotional; some of us empty nesters have found these furry creatures to be comforting companions. I think public policy should be directed to responsible dog ownership (leashed in public spaces and all poop scooped) and not toward limiting one’s choice of breed and limiting the all-important off-leash areas.

~Diane Snell, Leschi resident

And this letter appeared on NextDoor Leschi:

With all the changes proposed for neighborhoods throughout the city, ours included, it is important for all Leschi neighbors, renters and owners, to not only join the Leschi Community Council, but be an active participant in protecting this very special community. If you are not already a member or know someone who is not, I encourage you to join today! Ballard, West Seattle, Capitol Hill and neighborhoods throughout the city waited too long to organize. Let’s not be the next community to be “involuntarily urbanized.”

~Dianne Ramsey, Leschi

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