Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dog parks vs. horse trails

It's funny how trail riding gives you a different perspective on dogs being off-leash. I didn't used to have much of an opinion of the latter, but I understand it more now that I've encountered dogs on the trail. I am probably pretty lucky that Panama doesn't freak out about dogs, because I have heard from a lot of people whose horses do — we've had dogs come right up to us, and I just halted Panama until their people catch them. He likes dogs, in general, and is more interested in trying to sniff noses with them than anything else!

Anyway, two state parks in the Denver Metro area, Chatfield and Cherry Creek, are going to be downsizing their dog parks. It's not much — 69 acres from 70 or 71 at Chatfield, and 107 acres down from 125 at Cherry Creek — but they will also be fencing in the dog parks and charging a minimal fee (a couple of bucks per day, or a $20 annual pass).

That's not bad, in my opinion — still gives them plenty of space, but protects others who want to use the parks without dogs running up to them. Both parks have riding stables that take groups of novice riders on trail rides.

Bob Hantschel, owner of the Paint Horse Stables at Cherry Creek, said the state park has become more dangerous for riders as the number of off-leash dogs has grown.

"When I see the continued degradation of the park, it's disheartening," he said.

In comparison to other states, Colorado is considered to be pretty dog friendly, but a lot of dog people are up in arms about this. I have to admit, I don't see what the big deal is, but I suspect that the groups who are upset are forgetting that they aren't the only ones using the park — and that non-dog people have just as much a right to enjoy the park as dog people do.

Board member Gary Butterworth noted that off-leash dog-park users at Chatfield and Cherry Creek will still have it pretty good, compared with other off-leash parks.

"I'm having a hard time understanding (how) 107 acres and 69 acres is rapidly diminishing the value of a dog park," he said.




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