Council doesn’t care about dogs |

Council doesn’t care about dogs

Dear Editor:

I would not have believed it possible ” even in Aspen.

The City Council doesn’t care that Aspen’s vet reported he treated 143 small dogs attacked by large dogs last year or that numerous small dogs in Aspen have been killed by large dogs and coyotes. Council doesn’t care that I submitted a petition with six pages of signatures requesting an enclosed area for small dogs to recreate. Council doesn’t care that a local vet, a groomer, an ex-mayor and two women attacked by large dogs requested that small dogs have an area for play away from intimidating large dogs.

Council’s decision not to create a dog area nine years ago is totally irrelevant. And council doesn’t care that Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and El Jebel have recognized the wisdom of setting aside space for animals to exercise safely.

I began the search for an appropriate location a year ago, and on June 9, I requested council approve a seasonal, small-dog run, using temporary plastic fencing that can be removed easily. Council turned the matter over to the parks department, which was blatantly against the idea from the start, even though parks assured council it would not be expensive or labor-intensive to create a small dog run.

Most disturbing to me is the total lack of recognition of the legitimacy of dogs and their owners by the parks department and council. Dog owners constitute a sizable, ever-expanding group. If the city aspires to provide for the diverse recreational needs of all community members (fundamental to recreation planning), it is obligated to plan for dog owners’ needs as well as skiers, skateboarders, children who play in the fountain or any other group. Dog owners treated as an integral part of the community rather than a problem encourages them to act more responsibly with their pets. Respect begets respect.

The parks department insisted the best location for a small dog area would be the Marolt Open Space ” an area outside town that meets none of the citizens’ criteria for small dogs. Small dogs overheat quickly in full sun, and they cannot run in tall grass because their stomachs are low to the ground. Having to drive out of town would be an inconvenience and would increase traffic. Nothing about this idea works.

The parks department invoked council’s decision nine years ago not to create a dog park as their reasoning for strongly dismissing this request. There’s been a considerable increase in both large and small dogs over the past nine years, making it more necessary than ever to have a space for small dogs to recreate safely.

I provided council with a 35-page “position paper” full of canine information, facts, suggestions for dog etiquette and protocol, as well as photos of the exceptional dog park at Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel and recommendations for an Aspen park. I don’t understand how council could have read my research, yet refuse us our dogs’ safety. City officials are employed to represent us and our safety, but this parks department and council just don’t care.

Susan O’Neal


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