Within the last month I have received notice of several concerning interactions, specifically in our Natural Areas and Recreation Path, between off leash dogs, their guardians, and other patrons visiting the parks. Our ordinance states that all dogs must be leashed in Red Rocks, Jaycee and Veterans Memorial Parks as well as the Recreation Path. In all other parks, dogs need to be “under the control of the owner”; which could mean voice control and not necessarily leashed. The existing ordinance is something that the Common Areas for Dogs Committee will be taking up for discussion at their April 17th meeting; please feel free to attend and share your thoughts. New parks have been added to the system since the ordinance was crafted and an increase of both registered dogs in South Burlington and overall park usage has changed how the parks are being used, which provides opportunity for thoughtful reflection of these regulations.
The Common Areas for Dogs Committee is working diligently to provide relief to some of the stated issues through ordinance recommendations, creation of additional dog parks and outreach and education to the community. While a primary focus coming out of the pandemic has been to create the Wheeler Dog Park and support needed fixes of the Farrell Dog Park; the committee is also actively working to provide guidance as to how best support dog families and non-dog families in accessing the network of parks and pathways we have in South Burlington and to help make all our parks welcoming and safe. As the committee continues to do its work and we await next steps; I would like to encourage everyone to be patient and kind with one another. Each of our parks should be a physically and emotionally safe place for all visitors. If you are walking your dog off leash in a space that allows for voice control; please be mindful of those around you and have your dog pause, sit, or come back to you if others are on trail or in the park; allowing others to enjoy the safety and freedom that you and your dog companion are enjoying. While your dog is likely friendly, it doesn’t mean that someone else feels comfortable being approached by them.
We each need to do our part to be engaged, thoughtful, diligent, and kind users. Together we can keep our parks a welcoming place for everyone.
Director of Recreation and Parks