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Doggy doo and leashes.

No, it’s not the name of a 1980s punk band; it’s a growing problem within city parks.

 

The Sedona Parks and Recreation and Police departments have kicked off an educational campaign designed to help keep all park users happy, safe and in compliance with city code.

“Thankfully, we have not had a bad incident that has taken place, but simply a large amount of concerns or complaints,” Parks and Recreation Manager Rachel Murdoch said. “This is a common problem for all cities and it has been happening for a while.”

She said too many pets are being permitted off-leash, resulting in unsafe and unsanitary conditions for the many children and adults who also use the grass area.

When dogs are off leash and a good distance away from their owner, the owner is less likely to notice when the animal has gone to the bathroom and therefore it doesn’t get picked up. This problem is a concern at Posse Grounds Park, and a significant problem at Sunset Park on Sunset Drive.

She said the complaints they’ve received range from dogs running up to gatherings of people to dog stool scattered all across the park.

“To my knowledge no one has been hurt by a dog off leash, but as you know, when a dog you don’t know runs up to you, you simply don’t know if it’s going to be friendly or not,” she said. “Also, perfectly friendly dog owners might not even see their dog going to the bathroom, if it is far away from them, and therefore it doesn’t get picked up. With a dog on leash, they are more sure to see this happen and hopefully take care of it.”

Murdoch said the fact the Sedona Dog Park is closed for renovations until mid-November is not the problem. She said while visitors may go to the park and take their dog off leash simply not knowing the rules, it’s community members that are the repeat offenders.

“They do not like taking their dogs to the dog park,” she said. “They prefer the grass and the open area that has less dogs. This campaign will hopefully educate those that are unaware, but let those that know the rule and simply choose to break it, that there will be citations issued. It is not OK.”

City code requires dogs to be kept on a leash at all times within park boundaries and the city has been receiving complaints weekly from park users who witness violations.

During the first three weeks of October the Parks Department will begin the education process by posting signs at the park and sharing information via social media. The Police Department will patrol Sunset Park daily making sure all dog owners are aware of park rules.

“Our officers will join in the education effort and will give warnings during the education period,” SPD Cmdr. Ron Bayne said. “Our goal is to make sure that park users with pets are aware of the law.”

Beginning Oct. 22, citations will be issued to anyone at the park with a dog that is off-leash. The fine for a violation is determined at the judge’s discretion but could run to several hundred dollars.

Murdoch said residents and visitors are encouraged to take advantage of a city program that does allow pets to run off-leash, Yappy Hour, which is held at Posse Grounds Park each Sunday and Thursday morning from 8 to 9 a.m.

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