Dogs banned from rec district fields

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By Ian Neligh

The Clear Creek recreation district is banning dogs from its fields to help keep the fields clean.

“We shut the fields down to dog use a week ago and are no longer allowing dogs during field use, which is common for most ball parks,” said Anthony Vossler, the rec district’s maintenance supervisor.

Vossler said this move was necessary because the district wasn’t able to maintain the grass as well and because dog owners weren’t picking up after their pets. He added interactions between field users and dog owners also became strained at times.

“At this point, it is no dogs. It will be trespassing. We do have signs,” Vossler said. “We want to maintain the quality of the fields. It is not a dog park, and it was never meant to be.”

Vossler said employees and volunteers tried in vain to clean up the fields, filling many bags with dog waste and trash.

Idaho Springs Police Chief Chris Malanka said it was unfortunate that the fields had to be closed to canines because there are “ethical” dog owners.

“But regardless, even if you pick up the dog feces, it is still ‘I don't want my kids rolling in the grass or playing ball (in that),’ ” Malanka said.

Jennifer Upright, a dog owner and longtime advocate for an Idaho Springs dog park, said pet owners who abused the ballfields have no one to blame but themselves.

“It wasn't necessarily meant (as a dog park), so it was a privilege that we were using it,” Upright said. “The fact that people couldn't just realize it was a privilege and clean up after (their) dog, that’s on the dog owners … but it is also up to the city to find a place for us to use.”

Upright said she was part of an effort a few years ago to create a dog park, which the city ultimately denied. She hopes a permanent dog-park solution will be found one day in the city. In the meantime, she urged dog owners to be more responsible.

“It’s not just here that people aren’t picking up, it is everywhere,” Upright said. “If you're going to own a dog, be responsible, kind of like if you have a kid.”

Contact Ian Neligh at couranteditor@evergreenco.com, and check www.clearcreekcourant.com for updates and breaking news.