New dog park is inbound.
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: westbenddogpark.com.
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.