Don’t let the tail wag the dog |

Don’t let the tail wag the dog

It is wonderful that Aspen is such a dog-friendly town. Really, it is.

We see them at banks and parks, street corners and outdoor malls. It’s not uncommon for a canine to make an appearance at a City Council meeting. And some of Aspen’s luxury hotels even have doggie menus. Aspen also is home to a $3.5 million animal shelter, whose primary tenants happen to be canines.

Dogs, suffice it to say, rule Aspen.

But there comes a time when the people of Aspen need to stop the dog movement ” spearheaded, mind you, by their human owners ” dead in its tracks. Now is that time.

Aspen resident/dog owner Georgeann Waggaman on Monday swayed City Council members to consider allowing dogs on public buses on a trial basis. The dogs would only be allowed on buses using city routes.

The operator of the buses, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, does not allow dogs on buses, except those that can fit into a carrier and service dogs. But because the city contracts with RFTA, the city controls the rules and regulations of its in-town routes.

Waggaman contends that if city buses allowed dogs, their owners could more easily do errands and go to work with their dogs, among other conveniences. But we doubt that this initiative will reduce traffic in any meaningful way; for many it will be a disincentive to use mass transit.

Furthermore, the conveniences for dog owners would be matched with inconveniences for non-dog owners.

Passengers would be subject to dirtier buses, louder buses and smellier buses. There are obvious health concerns that come with allowing dogs on buses. And if Spot doesn’t get along with Fido, all hell could break loose. To the credit of supporters of the proposal, the idea of making all bus-riding dogs wear muzzles has been entertained.

Still, this is an idea we just cannot support, just as we cannot advocate smoking on buses either.

Dogs and their owners would be hard-pressed to find a town more canine-friendly than Aspen, but allowing pooches on buses is a disaster waiting to happen. Please, City Council, tighten this leash before our love affair with dogs bites us on the hide.

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