Dog ownership is surging. A survey by research firm Mintel reported that 50 percent of the U.S. population own dogs. Among Millennials, it rises to 71 percent among men, and 62 percent among women. …
This item is available in full to subscribers.
If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.
Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.
If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.
Dog ownership is surging. A survey by research firm Mintel reported that 50 percent of the U.S. population own dogs. Among Millennials, it rises to 71 percent among men, and 62 percent among women.
With growing housing density attracting younger renters to the Baker and Platt Park areas, the number of dogs is also increasing. High-density areas north of Speer Boulevard provide an example of what can happen. There are currently three online petitions asking for support for off-leash dog parks in Cheesman, Congress and City Parks. A query about dog poop on the Nextdoor social media site brought in more than 80—mostly angry—comments.
The pressure is on in South Denver, too. District 7 City Councilman Jolon Clark recently convened an informal meeting about dog parks. District 6 City Councilman Paul Kashmann also attended. “It was good to learn more about places that people thought would be good to have a dog park. Denver has standards and guidelines [outlined in its 2010 Dog Park Master Plan]. The next evolution is if this group can come up with some options” that would work, Clark said.
Clark said he’s had complaints about off-leash dogs in some of the smaller parks in his district, including Dailey Park in the Baker neighborhood. “Smaller parks get no attention from park rangers,” he said, because the ranger corps is stretched thin. “When someone calls it in—that’s when you get enforcement. This is one of those issues that divides people pretty quickly.”
The divisions are along the lines of safety and sanitation. People are fearful about the possibilities of dogs biting, while dog urine and feces damage vegetation and contain harmful bacteria. “Loose dogs, dog feces and irresponsible dog ownership. One of the top issues we deal with,” said Bob Toll, Park Ranger Program Administrator, who manages a summertime corps of 38 rangers policing some 20,000 acres of Denver city and mountain parks.
“Growth is great, but people need to set an example and observe the rules…I think there’s a direct correlation between off-leash and not picking up. Some has to do with the fact that some people just aren’t going to pick it up. We’ve found that the cleaner the park is, the better people pick it up…they don’t want to be an outlier, socially,” Toll said.
That difference is visible in Washington Park. “Our neighborhood doesn’t have a lot of young people and if they’re young, they usually have families and are more responsible,” said Friends and Neighbors of Washington Park President, Tim McHugh. “They seem to take care of their dogs and clean up after them. Sometimes, on Saturdays, when the volleyballers come, they have dogs off-leash in their areas, but dogs roaming in the park…it’s very rare.”
Both allowing dogs to run off-leash and not picking up their waste is illegal in Denver. Off-leash fines are $80 for the first offense, $150 for the second and $300 for the third. Toll says dog excrement fines start at $150 and go all of the way up to $999. “Our goal is voluntary compliance,” he said.
We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.
The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.