Poop-chute opened with change in dog rules | AspenTimes.com
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Poop-chute opened with change in dog rules

Aspen Times writer

The Aspen Times has long been a pro-dog newspaper and a pro-dog workplace, but we must take issue with last week’s decision by the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Board to lift a dog ban on the Emma-to-Wingo Junction trail.As of Aug. 1, canines will be allowed on the popular midvalley route. And open space board members vowed to enforce rules requiring owners to leash their pets and pick up their animals’ waste.It was probably a popular move and a nice sentiment, but we fear it’s hopelessly optimistic public policy.The ban was first enacted because the trail passes through two of the valley’s last working ranches, owned by Billy Grange and Reno Cerise. Open space board members, and the ranchers themselves, didn’t want off-leash dogs harassing livestock or people. The ban seems to have worked, but nonetheless wire-mesh fences have been installed in places where the trail borders pastureland. Given that midvalley dog owners have lots of places to walk their dogs, we don’t see this as a “broke” situation in need of a fix. Some law-abiding dog owners have argued that they’re being unfairly penalized for the selfish behavior of a few bad apples, and by its unanimous vote the open space board seemed to support the argument.However, though we hate to say it, local dog owners haven’t earned this privilege. Many if not most of them seem to care far more about their own fun and convenience than they do about the damage done by their off-leash pets, from wildlife and livestock harassment to the growing numbers of poop piles throughout the valley.And even if dog owners did decide to clean up their collective act, does the county really expect its sole enforcement officer to establish such a presence as to rein in the scofflaws?Yes, the penalties have teeth: $100 for the first offense, $500 for the second and $1,000 for the third.But selfish minds are powerfully persuasive (“There’s nobody around, why not just let Fang off-leash for a minute?” – then one minute turns to two, three and more), and we expect the ranchers to get the short end of this stick. Ranchers and the rest of the trail-using, poop-hating populace.If county officials intend to go through with this one-year experiment, we hope they’ll at least follow through on their promises and crack down on dog owners who put themselves before the law.


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