Council member Jeff Davis initially raised the issue at the council’s June 13 meeting, saying he’d heard several complaints about the city’s policy banning dogs in Swanny City Park. Davis requested that the council have further discussions about the policy.
Moab City Manger Donna Metzler said city staff is not as concerned about dogs being disruptive as about the potential impact dogs would have on the grass in the parks.
“If dog usage is allowed, we will see an impact on our lawns,” she said.
Jeff Foster, director of public works, agreed. “It’s been really difficult to keep the lawn green and beautiful as it is,” Foster said, citing the number of special events that take place at Swanny Park. He said that even if people are responsible and clean up after their dogs, there is no way to prevent the yellow spots caused by dogs urinating on the grass.
Moab Animal Control Sgt. Randy Zimmerman said he spoke with several other cities and counties regarding their dog ordinances and problems they’d seen as a result. While many of the cities allowed dogs without any reported issues, others like Park City are considering banning dogs from the parks because of issues with owners not cleaning up after them, as well as not following leash laws.
“People just have a tendency to let their dogs off the leash,” Zimmerman said. “They bother the people that don’t want to be bothered.”
Police Chief Mike Navarre said that out of all the cities they talked to, there was a consistent issue with cleanup. “Even the parks that have clean up stations, people don’t clean up after their dogs,” he said. “I’m a dog lover ... but Swanny is such a beautiful park, I’d hate to see a bunch of problem spots.”
Council member Kirstin Peterson said that the city already offers a lot of places for people to take their dogs. “We already do quite a bit for dogs,” she said. “The whole Millcreek Parkway system is an awesome place to walk your dog. We’ve got the Bark Park where dogs can be off leash. And we’re surrounded by a lot of space where people can take their dogs. It would be different if there weren’t all these other options.”
Navarre said that if the city did decide to allow dogs in the parks, they would probably still be restricted during special events. “The car show isn’t going to want dogs there,” he said.
Though Davis wasn’t present for the discussion, the rest of the council members agreed that they wanted to continue to keep dogs out of the parks.