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Summit County Council’s Comments on Dogs are Becoming White Noise

In Wednesday’s Park Record, the Summit County Council wrote an editorial on dogs. The title, “Self Regulation By Dog Owners is Best Solution” got us excited. The contents of the editorial, not so much.

The editorial basically says:

  • Keep your dog on leash
  • If you have a dog you know is safe off-leash, then use one of the county’s fenced in off-leash parks.

Wow, that is exceptionally helpful.

What we were expecting from the title was something that would work in the real world. You know, handle the most common situations where a person without a dog (or a leashed dog) encounters bikers, skiers, hikers, or people walking around town with their dogs off leash.

It seems to us that they need to just make a choice from the few available options and go with it. They could make the fine for an off leash dog so outrageous and universally enforced that citizens know that if the Sheriff, Park City Police, or Animal Control see a dog off leash, it will be an automatic $1000 fine.

The second option is to start a campaign like Mountain Trails 10 seconds of kindness, where Mountain Trails advocates being respectful of others. In this case we know dogs will be off-leash, so the County reinforces that if you come upon a dog that is leashed or a person without a dog, and your dog is unleashed, you and your animal step off the side of the trail. Simple. For bikers and skiers that is more effort, but it seems like a good compromise.

The third option is perhaps the most libertarian view. Leave the leash laws as they are and with current enforcement (basically unenforced) but if your dog bites a human, attacks a dog, or chases wildlife, you will be fined $5000 and pay restitution to the victim.

The final option is to continue on the path we are on. With this path, there are laws against off-leash dogs but they are rarely enforced. Likewise, the percentage of off-leash dogs that actually cause trouble is also very low. There will be occurrences where people are upset about the dogs, just like they are upset at other drivers. Yet, it is an acceptable loss versus the enjoyment and marketing Park City receives from its dog culture.

It seems the county has been beating this drum for years. At some point it just becomes white noise — and it probably already has for many people. We understand that they feel pressure to do something in light of the most recent dog biting incident, but at this point simply writing a letter to the paper means little.

We believe they either need to decide to take unilateral action, and face the certain backlash from citizens, or just say the law “is what it is” and in effect be quiet. Either way would be a welcome change from what we are seeing now.




It is not white noise for Dave Hanscom or I when out with my dog. Sounds like you are one of the many offenders.

Maybe time for community enforcement, ask that a dog to please be placed on leash if it is not controlled. If not then report to the police as a public safety issue, which it is.

Socialist who loves my dog.



Thanks for the comment but I wish you would not make accusations without knowing anything about me or how I handle my dogs. It doesn’t add to the conversation or move us further toward a solution.

Perhaps my post was not clear enough or you just read the title. The County Council and Park City have been talking about the issue of dogs as long as I can remember. Not much has changed. They put together a task force of citizens that met for over a year and not much has changed. Simply talking about the issue has shown it will change nothing.

Politically, I’m not sure there is the will to make changes. If there was, it likely would have happened by now. I’m also not sure if there is the public will for change. I would say 95% of the people I see walking the streets, have their animals on leash. I would say 80% of the people I see on the trails don’t have their animals on leash.

My personal belief is that I believe citizens should be responsible for the actions of their animals. I would completely support a measure that would automatically fine a person $10,000 if their animal bit a human, dog, or chased wildlife and paid restitution to the victims (based on a judge’s determination). Yet, while that might truly stop the people who know their dogs are likely to be aggressive, I don’t think it keeps every dog on leash.

Therefore, I have talked to people around town and asked the question what would it take for you to always have your dog on a leash? I ask if a fine was $200 per offense, would you put them on leash. The answer is usually, “I probably wouldn’t… I’m willing to pay $200 to hike with my dog and what’s the chance I’ll get caught twice.” Then I ask about $500. They say they’d keep the leash with them and put it on the animal when they saw the police. I then ask if it was a $1,000 fine if they would risk it. At that point, the people say they would keep them leashed.

Therefore, if we really wanted to ensure dogs were on leash, the County Council would change the law to make it a $1,000 fine per dog off leash. They would instruct animal control and the sheriff (and work with Park City Police) to automatically fine anyone they saw off leash… no exceptions. Every time. Your dog jumps out of the vehicle without leash. It’s fined. Your dog runs into the street in front of your house. You are fined. Your dog jumps your fence and is found by animal control. You are fined.

Now, if you wanted to run for the County Council in November on that platform, I don’t think you’d have a snowball’s chance in he** of being elected. That said, you don’t know until you try.

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