Shop owners yawn over leash rule | AspenTimes.com

Shop owners yawn over leash rule

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The Puppy Smith Plaza vicious beast, aka 5 1/2 month old Waldo, sleeps peacefully while shoppers pass by Monday afternoon July 29, 2002. Paul Conrad photo.

Some popular dogs at the Puppy Smith Street shopping center should be on leashes, according to the complex’s manager, but the dogs’ owners are taking a relaxed approach to the rule.

Earlier this month, managers of the complex that includes Clark’s Market in Aspen circulated a memo. It warned several business owners in the area that they would be barred from bringing their dogs to work, in order to avoid a lawsuit if a customer complains. The ban lasted less than a day, after the store owners and the public protested loudly.

As a compromise, manager Chip Munday said dog owners must now keep their pets on leashes in the complex’s courtyard, in coordination with the city’s leash law.

“Even though we are private property, we are a business that provides for the public,” Munday said. “We have to, best we can, try to maintain public rules and regulations.”

Munday said he asks business owners to keep dogs leashed when he finds them roaming free in the complex. But business owners say they see the rule as more of a laissez-faire standard.

On Monday afternoon Waldo, a 5-month-old Saint Bernard, was laying flat on the cool concrete in front of Sashae Floral Arts and Gifts. Although he was not on a leash, his owner, Mailboxes Etc. branch owner Jim Oliver, said he keeps a closer eye on Waldo lately.

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“It’s like water under the bridge,” Oliver said of the brief ban on dogs and the current leash rule. “I always have a leash and a rope outside if I need to put Waldo on it, so he doesn’t bother people while they’re eating. But I’ve had no other complaints.”

Shea Singer, owner of Sashae Floral Arts and Gifts, said that her 15-week-old golden retriever, Daisy, is kept on a leash walking in and out of the parking lot, but otherwise doesn’t really leave the store.

“Things are back to normal, but it left a bad taste in my mouth as far as the state of landlords and this community are heading,” Singer said. “I think Aspen is losing a lot of its charm. Restricting dogs is just one more step in sterilizing the personality of Aspen.”

Singer, Oliver and Take 2 Video owner Tim Boyer gathered signatures and comments from residents on the shopping center’s dogs and said there weren’t any negative responses.

“Cole [Boyer’s 9-year-old black Labrador] has been not a problem in the two and a half years she’s been coming here,” Boyer said. “There’s never been a single complaint.”

Oliver said he still gets tourists visiting Aspen who stop at the shopping center to ask about his previous Saint Bernard, Hoss. When they learn that Hoss died last spring, Oliver said he introduces them to Waldo.

“It turned out to be something much more blown up than it should have been,” Munday said of the initial ban on dogs. “I think everyone contributed to that.”

But he added that he’ll also continue to warn the business owners to keep their dogs on leashes, in accordance with the law.

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com]