Saturday, July 18, 2009

West Bend finally going to the Dogs

Hi everyone,

New dog park is inbound.

Saturday's column:

It’s not a dog’s world, but West Bend’s getting better with new park

Two weeks ago we got an 8-month-old puppy from one of the local rescue groups. His papers say he’s a shepherd/beagle mix, but he looks like a Rottweiler that was left in the dryer too long. He’s a mutt.

I haven’t owned a dog for some years and the last week has been a refresher course on municipal ordinances and doggie etiquette. There are obvious courtesies like don’t let your dog jump on people, teach him to sit down when cyclists or other pedestrians pass you and always keep your pooch on a leash when in public. But two concerns in particular outweighed all the others: 1) your plastic poop bag must be visible at all times and 2) you can’t walk your dog in the city parks.

The visibility of the poop bag is not a mystery. During the first week of dog walks we just stuffed a couple of plastic shopping bags in our pockets. Big mistake. When you walk past people out in their yards, and neglect to display your plastic poop bag, homeowners give you the evil eye. I should have known better because I do this, too.

Even with lots of responsible dog owners in the city, when I go out walking I still run into poop-o-plenty littering the parkways and trails. It’s terrificly annoying. I mean, the ethics of dog ownership are pretty clear – the dog doesn’t know it has to clean up after itself. That’s the owner’s job. So when I see people walking their dogs, the first thing I look for is The Pooper Bag of Responsible Dog Ownership. If I don’t see it, my first (and uncharitable) thought is, “that guy doesn’t care where his dog poops. I wonder if the cops could ticket him.”

Last week I called to check on the fines. Cost for not picking up your dog’s poop? First offense: $172. Second offense: $266.50! That’s what it means to say that “every litter bit hurts.”

Solution: Be sure to pick up after your dog and be sure to let that bag hang out of your back pocket so it’s visible at all time. It’s amazing how much comfort it gives the neighbors.

A more mysterious restriction is that no dogs are allowed in West Bend city parks (although they are allowed on the Eisenbahn Trail and in Washington County Parks).

I’d love to run with the pooch through Regner or along the Riverwalk, but there are signs everywhere referencing municipal ordinance 20.02 7 (a). The rule actually states that you can’t walk dog, cat, “fowl or other domesticate animal within a park.” I have friends who walk their cat, but I’ve never seen anyone walking their duck in West Bend. Still, it wouldn’t be in the ordinance unless someone had tried it.

The fine for walking dogs in the park is cheaper, for some reason, than letting your dog poop without cleaning it up. The first offense for walking your dog through a city park costs $121.60; a second offense runs $172, in line with the fines for littering and, my favorite from this section of the municipal code 20.02 section 8, annoying people in the park by playing Frisbee. Usurp any park area “to the exclusion peril or injury to others,” and it’ll cost you $172.

Fortunately for all of us dog owners, the Common Council amended the No Animals in the Park Ordinance back in March to allow dog walking “within a park designated by the city as a dog park” – which brings us to this happy ending: West Bend could get a dog park, the first real one in Washington County.

Scheduled to open in Spring 2010, it will be located off of 18th Avenue just south of Highway 45. The city will develop 30 acres of the 40-acre property with nature and hiking trails. Ten acres will make up the proposed dog park.

K9 Friends of West Bend, the folks who made this possible, worked with the parks department and the common council to reach an agreement that made everybody happy. The dog park fences and everything inside, including mowing, picking up, maintaining the way-stations (with pooper scooper supplies, etc.) and benches, will be paid for through donations. The council votes Monday to approve the agreement.

The president of the group said they’ve had nothing but positive comments since starting the process. Most people have said “it’s about time!” For more information on how you might help out, contact them at the group at the Web site:


I know... I've been too nice lately. Next week, let's finally act responsibly and ask for the Bible to be removed from public access in the public library.

6 comments: said...

The reason dogs aren't allowed in city parks is precisely because of what you observed: too many owners don't pick up after their dogs. When I adopted a one mile stretch of the Eisenbahn, I always found dog waste or even bags of waste that were just left for me to pick up.

When I was on the city council, the idea of a city sponsored dog park was floated by a group of owners. Few issues generate phone calls, but this one did, and they were 100% against the use of tax dollars for a dog park.

By the way, I'm a dog owner, and I'll be glad to donate to the K9 park.

Mpeterson said...

Hi Jed,

Yeah, we've found exactly the same thing along the Eisenbahn up at our end ... it's terrifically annoying and more than enough to give pause regarding dogs in the city parks.


John Jost said...

Is that ACLU link new? If so, from a card-carrying member, thank you!

I don't think we should try to have the Bible removed from the library (hurts me to capitalize it, though.)

Instead, we could insist on having a good choice of books about other religions and especially the absence of same.

We could start donating appropriate materials. They would take them, woulnd't they?

PaulyW said...


You are in the minority (ACLU member) except here and a few other sites....The Bible needs to stay just like the adult material. I am glad making you type Bible makes you uncomfortable....just like having porn in the young adult section makes me uncomfortable.

Kristina said...

I do not know if you know this but I catapulted this. I called Nick Dobberstien, my alderman about a year ago and asked him if he would still support this. When he was going door to door during the election I asked him about this issue. So we met with Craig at the park and rec, held a meeting at the library for the public. From there we formed a core group and elected the officers. Which I had no interest in being. I don't have the time it takes for that.
So got it moving and passed it on to those that did have the time for it. Jill the prez of K9 friends and Pam the treasurer are great in their positions.
Not to mention in light of the library issue and my issue with Vrana I don't think that would have made me an asset to the cause. ----- Dear CC we are asking you to revise the law of dogs in city parks and let us use other park land for out dog park. --- Ya that would fly well
Right now I take my dog tothe Grafton dog park because they are dog owners there poop is always picked up. If you can't find exactly where your dog went than if you found someone else tha could'nt find their dogs it gets picked up. It's nice you don't have to check your shoes before you get into your vehicle to leave.
By the way, I was thrilled to that topic as your editorial. Cool beans, thanks..

Kristina said...

I just read whatI wrote and I think it sounds rather egocentric of me. I was tired when I wrote it. I wanted to let people know that for all the negative press Nick got because of the library fiasco he has done some really great things in this town.
There was even discussion in the beginning that if the dog park flys the city could also increase their no dogs in parks and trails. Only allowing them only in the specified dog park, and in turn allowing the city if they choose to discontinue allowing them on the Eisenbahn. It does not sound like that happened but who knows...
So sorry if I was trying to make myself sound like I'm all that. It was not my intention but more to bring some of Nick's good job tothe forfront and to give kudos to the board members of K9friends for the time and effort they have put into this....