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LAPS pushing for dog parks

SILVERTHORNE – Folks with four-legged friends have always appreciated Summit County’s largely dog-friendly attitude and spirit of canine acceptance.

But as the county continues to grow and traditional dog-walking spots begin to dwindle – and more events declare themselves dog-free – many pet owners are hoping to find spots where their dogs can roam free and safely take part in some inter-canine activities.

The League for Animals and People of the Summit (LAPS) has begun a grassroots push to establish a number of official dog parks at communities across the county.



And it’s an idea whose time may have already come – with two separate projects potentially offering dog parks at locations in both Silverthorne and Breckenridge already in the works, and Breck’s Carter Park continuing to offer an “unofficial” spot for dogs to run off-leash.

Silverthorne’s Bruce Beerup has spent the last year examining dog park regulations in the Front Range and says he’d like to see local dog owners and governments create the same kind of parks locally.



His proposal calls for acre-sized, fenced-in areas with well-posted rules and regulations, access to water and plenty of pooper-scooper bags on hand.

“Over the years, dog owners’ possibilities for places to let their dogs run free have really dwindled, so people started to think about new ideas,” Beerup said.

“It’s something that’s kind of a polite anachronism … it seems like nobody would complain about establishing a children’s playground, but when it comes to dogs, things are different. You can’t take your animals in wilderness areas and people have had real trouble finding the right place to allow their dogs to go off-leash …. whenever you do it, you feel like you’re doing the wrong thing,” he added.

Beerup, whose wife, Sally, serves as LAPS president, has drawn up a list of rules common at Front Range dog parks and hopes they might serve as a framework for establishing local parks.

“These rules are very general, more informational than anything,” Beerup said. “But we’d like to make them the same for everyone from Montezuma to Dillon – simple stuff like picking up the poop and getting your dogs to behave like model citizens. Suddenly, you’ve got dogs that don’t jump up on each other because they’ve been properly socialized.”

After about a year of research, Beerup has produced a list of suggestions and is floating them to county and local governments.

He’d like dog fanciers and officials to work things out. To that end, LAPS will be meeting with local governments over the next year and orchestrating a signature-collection drive at upcoming dog-friendly events to help gather support.

At present, potential dog parks are included as part of the McCain-Block 11 property development at Breckenridge’s north entrance.

County Open Space Advisory Council member Trudy Robinson also spent some time crafting a proposal to use the Summit County Rodeo Grounds as a dog park – a concept still being examined by county government.

“My initial thought was the rodeo grounds don’t really get that much use and that it already has the infrastructure in place,” Robinson said.

“The 4-H and the Animal Shelter were very supportive of the concept … unfortunately, when we talked to the county and the Denver Water Board, they were not very excited about it.”

The Denver Water Board owns the property below the Dillon Dam, which the county leases for recreation.

County Commissioner Gary Lindstrom said county staff is still going ahead with investigation of the rodeo grounds location.

“In a nutshell, we support it there, just as we would support other towns to create their own,” Lindstrom said. “I think it’s a great idea for all communities.

Summit’s existing experiment in off-leash dog park activity, Breckenridge’s Carter Park, has been a mostly successful offering, said Trish Holcroft, community service officer with the Breckenridge Police Department.

“Officially, we run the park as a multi-use park, although unofficially we offer it as the one place in town that owners can have their dogs off-leash … we’re essentially not enforcing the local leash law,” she said.

Two years ago, as less dog-positive park users began to complain about dog waste and some safety issues, Holcroft helped organize a couple of public meetings to address the problem. The result has been an annual springtime cleanup – organized by community dog owners – and Holcroft said the park remains as popular as ever.

“Things seem to be working out great there … dog owners are much more responsible, and our maintenance staff says the park has been much cleaner as a result.”

Those interested in viewing LAPS’ dog park proposal can read it online at http://www.the

naturalhome.com/dogpark.html or contact Bruce Beerup at 262-0451. LAPS will also be collecting signatures from registered voters on Aug. 2 at the K9-4K Race at Frisco Town Hall and again Aug. 17 at Copper’s Dog Daze of Summit.


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