Every dog should have its day

By Rebecca Carr | Mar 03, 2010

When the city polled residents in 2007, its results indicated 36 percent would like to see an off-leash dog park in town, placing it 15th on a long list of park priorities.

That number may seem low as to the amount of people who would benefit.  But we think everyone can win with this venture if it's done correctly, even non-dog lovers.


Most dog owners will choose to bring their animals to a dog-friendly park if there is one available, lessening encounters between exuberant dogs and random strangers in other city parks.


Opening a designated off-leash area in town could open the door to tightening up enforcement of the city's current leash laws, which prohibit dogs roaming free through the streets of Mukilteo. Frequent readers of Police Beat - and those who like to walk around town - are aware of the growing number of dogs reported running loose and in some cases, intimidating residents walking their own leashed pets.


There's a lot to consider before declaring victory here. City officials will have to find a suitable location, one close enough to be accessible to dog owners yet not so close that neighboring residents are barked out of their homes, (and the pleasant hum of commercial passenger aircraft flying overhead isn't drowned out by noisy mutts).


We also want to ensure we aren't adding a formidable risk of liability to the city, should a less socialized dog bite someone.  That information wasn't available as of Monday's presentation, and we would want to know of, as well as minimize, any financial risk to taxpayers.


Proponents promised councilmembers that this would be a city resource-friendly venture, with citizens doing the majority of installing the necessary infrastructure.

The numbers presented Monday show Mountlake Terrace set up its off-leash dog park for around $50,000, most of which went toward secure fencing, signage, a clean and automatic-shut off water supply and bags and a bin in which to deposit, well, deposits.


Proponents say community volunteers can provide the materials and the labor for much of that work. In fact, many Eagle Scout candidates contributed elements to Mountlake Terrace's park as their community project. Anything that would lessen added burdens on our already busy staff - without increasing taxpayer liability - should be considered.


As long-time veterans of council meetings, we're impressed at the growing number of successful community-based projects, from the community garden to the recent trails built in Japanese Gulch.


We're especially pleased at the new faces that turn out as they find projects that suit their own talents and interests.  We can't have too much community participation and neighbors getting to know one another - such effects only make Mukilteo safer and less friendly to the criminal element.


We commend Sally Berg Osborn, Jennifer Charles and Kelly Lee for their extensive work researching area dog parks. The trio gathered information on what's worked in other parks, elements and materials needed for a successful - and safe - dog park, and the cost estimates to set one up.


The women have gathered more than 800 signatures of support, including more than 100 who are willing to help with construction and ongoing cleanup.


We give the off-leash dog park concept a cautious paws up as long as the numbers pan out, and dog lovers come through as promised, both in setup and maintenance of the area. We certainly support the staff researching the feasibility of a dog park here, and look forward to hearing the actual cost estimates and liability assessment.

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