Sammamish needs another off-leash dog park. Here’s why and how it can be safe.
The Beaver Lake dog park is too small to be of real use. The dogs don’t have enough room to run and play. The “dog prisons” that exist there now compress the play and exercise areas, and the large breed area with its path can be traversed in five minutes. My Golden Retriever gets no exercise to speak of here.
As readers know, I advocated turning Big Rock Park into an off-leash park. There was a long comment posted why this should not be done: safety, potential harm to sensitive areas, etc.
The response is easy.
First, if people know it’s an off-leash dog park, problem solved. The conflict emerges with the assumption that it is not an off-leash park and some people nonetheless let their dog off-leash.
Certain days (or even certain hours) could also be designated off-leash with the remaining days on-leash.
Second, as with Marymoor Park, fence off those sensitive areas. Costly? Perhaps, but after spending a half million dollars (!!!) for two (!!!) boat docks at Sammamish Landing, I’m not sure there is a good argument on cost.
Whether Big Rock Park or another park becomes off-leash, Sammamish has plenty of “people” parks. Having a sizable off-leash park, well designated, is a convenience and an amenity.
People complain about having to drive off the Plateau for goods and services, and note that keeping people on the Plateau reduces traffic. The same argument can be made for this amenity.
I received this email from a reader.
It Is Time to Decriminalize Walking the Dog
Forbes’ friendliest town of Sammamish does not want you to appear in a public park with an unleashed dog. Boasting a dozen parks and counting, there is but a sliver of one park where walking a dog off leash is allowed. The city does not bother pointing out that that sliver of land belongs to the power company and is not to be used or developed for safety reasons. The parks fall under the laws of King County and they stipulate that all dogs with a few exceptions must be walked on leash. In practice, parks employees do not write tickets or even approach dog owners. Law enforcement officers only respond to calls about overly aggressive dogs or related problems. If you want to walk or run your dog off leash, go ahead but be discreet and clean up after your dog. This utopia is about to change.
We had an incident in one of our parks in which a young girl carrying a toy was confronted by a young German Shepard. The dog wanted the toy and was aggressive towards the girl. The girl and mother were very upset by the episode and Mayor Odell decided to put some teeth into the regulations. The big solution is to have trained volunteers wear uniforms and carry guns and write tickets to people walking their dogs off leash. Basically, the Mayor is admitting that this is not enough of a problem to actually hire police to do the work. I can see a lot of potential problems with this solution but the obvious thing to do is create more off leash parks. Clearly they will be used and in doing so it will be easier to enforce the leash law for everywhere else.
I will be holding a meeting at the Sammamish Youth Center soon for people interested in expanding our off leash opportunities. What I would like to do is to put together some suggestions for how to make our existing parks more dog owner friendly and then go with a group of people to City Hall and present them at a City Council Meeting. If we go as a group, we get 5 minutes to present our case. Now is the time to be heard, ignoring this problem is no longer an option.
I also received this email from one of the Park Commissioners, speaking for herself:
This is so not an open forum. Where is my email comment?
It’s where you wrote it in the first place.
Don’t be so snide unless you actually know what you are talking about.
Not all dogs or their owners fit into a “one size fits all” category, nor are all dog bite cases the same either.
Be clear that I own three small breed dogs and one cat. I keep the dogs on leash at all times even though I live on a farm. The main risk is a moderately busy farm road near my home. I provide them with a 200 sq. ft. ‘playpen’ where they run and have a great time.
Having said all that, my 2 1/2 year old son was mauled by two German Sheppards in 1987 and I was able to show “intent to harm” in court and won the case.
Note that Dog Parks come in all shapes and sizes too. Many are completely fenced. Some municipalities require permitting and the payment of certain fees as well as proof of shots, etc. The assumption of risk by all parties is the most ambiguous area.
If I were on the City Council making a decision whether to site a dog park and where, I would engage in due diligence first to review best practices around the country before jumping in with both feet with a decision.