Summit County is becoming less dog-friendly | SummitDaily.com
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Summit County is becoming less dog-friendly

Kimberly Nicoletti

SUMMIT COUNTY – Some locals say event coordinators have become party poopers because they don’t allow dogs to their community shindigs. But the so-called party poopers are just trying to prevent the real poop from hitting the fan.

Who started it?

Since 1998, the County Events Co-op – made up of town, resort, recreation center, chamber, arts and government representatives – has been working to ban pets from most events. The main reasons for no-pet events are that some people fear animals, dogs have bitten people at events and, of course, dogs leave droppings.

Now they’re giving tickets

The town of Breckenridge is not only seeing more pet-free events, but town police began actively enforcing the 1995 town ordinance prohibiting animals at Kingdom Park and the Riverwalk Center Tuesday. Officers had otherwise casually enforced the law, but this summer, they’ve seen an increase in the number of dogs in the parks. Now, employees of the recreation center and Riverwalk Center will ask anyone with a dog to remove it. If people don’t comply, the police will issue tickets.

“There are a variety of places in and around Breckenridge where dogs are welcome,” Breckenridge Chief of Police Rick Holman said. “However, these two areas are such special gathering places for individuals and families with children that we believe it’s important to keep the pet-free zones for everyone’s comfort and safety,”

Places they’re giving warnings

Officers aren’t issuing tickets to dog owners who ignore no-pet event signs in other towns, but at Frisco’s fiesta June 21, they asked people to remove their dogs from the street.

Dillon resident Gary Wittow had to walk his dog back to the car after bringing it to the fiesta.

“Frisco has always been the most lenient when it comes to dogs and events, and recently all of the towns have been limiting where dogs can go, and I think it’s discrimination,” Wittow said.

In 1998, Frisco passed its resolution delineating which events would be pet-free. This year, dogs are allowed at Fourth of July events, concerts in the park, Run the Rockies, Founder’s Day and, of course, the Canine 4K. They are not allowed at the Music on Main and other larger events.

“Some people were not happy at the public hearing, but after that, I think people understood that we were trying to keep the public safe,” said Linda Lichtendahl, community relations director.

Why towns have pet-free events

Two years ago, a dog bit a 12-year-old, leading the town of Dillon to ban pets from farmers’ markets and most amphitheatre events. Other reasons the town banned dogs from events involved the health issue of dogs defecating where people picnicked, the increased risk of people tripping over leashes between dogs and owners and a concern about dogs’ oversensitivity to loud music (although veterinarian Gretchen Norton from the Breckenridge Animal Clinic said music at the outdoor venues isn’t loud enough to harm dogs).

“This was done with a lot of thought, and we apologize if our intentions aren’t understood, because we’re not doing this to ostracize anyone,” said Sally Croker, Dillon marketing and events manager. “We have to evolve with how our population is evolving up here. Before, we just didn’t have the density.”

Is it ruining the fun?

“Every year, yet another fun social event has been designated off-limits to dogs,” said Sally Beerup, president of the League of Animals and People of the Summit (LAPS). “In a county that seems to have more pets per capita than anywhere else in the country, this is truly a very sad thing to see happen. Banishment only serves to compound the problem of pets not being socialized properly.

“The more events that dogs and their owners attend, the more socialized the pet becomes and thus less chance of a disturbance. … Segregating pets from events only contributes to the increasing lack of socialization skills taught to pets and children alike – they learn to fear each other, not love each other. This situation is only going to get worse with pets being banished from more and more public events.”

Some event coordinators are just as torn as dog owners on the subject. Breckenridge coordinator Julie Foster loves dogs but supports no-pet events, especially when there’s food or children. She sees no-pet events as a growing trend.

On the other hand, Keystone Resort is moving toward being more dog-friendly. Last month, the Keystone Inn began allowing dogs in the hotel to maximize guests’ satisfaction. Officially, dogs aren’t allowed at Keystone events, but if the dog isn’t causing a disturbance, chances are no one will ask owners to remove it, said Keystone manager of communications Mike Lee.  

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.


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