This sign at one of the entrances to Riverside Park in Burlington is among the many in parks throughout the city that will have to be replaced now that the City Council has voted to repeal the ban on dog in parks. (Photo by Ed Nadolski)

City Council approves leashed dogs in local parks

By Jason Arndt


Dog owners will be able to take their animals to all City of Burlington parks after the Common Council adopted an ordinance following two amendments at an April 3 meeting.

The final ordinance passed on a 6-2 decision with District 3 Aldermen Steve Rauch and Jon E. Schultz II as the two opponents of the matter.

The ordinance reads:

“Any person who brings a dog or domestic animal into any City of Burlington park and/or multiuse path shall: Keep said animal on a leash no longer than six   feet in length and under their control at all times; Keep said animal out of any playground, the Chocolate Festival grounds during the Annual Chocolate Festival, or athletic field; Immediately remove the animal if it exhibits aggressive behavior; Be liable for injury caused by said animal; Be responsible for the immediate repair of damage caused by said animal; Be responsible for immediately cleaning and removing any defecation of said animal; Comply with all animal control ordinances as set forth in Chapter 104.”

Differing ordinance presented

Initially, the ordinance presented before the Common Council barred dogs from picnic areas, instead of the Chocolate Festival grounds during the annual event.

Two council members believed picnic areas were either too restrictive or were not a focal point of discussion at previous meetings.

District 2 Alderman Ryan Heft, who brought the concern before the Common Council on Feb. 20, indicated picnic areas were too restrictive.

“The only thing I want to amend is picnic areas,” he said.

District 1 Alderwoman Susan Kott agreed, adding she did not recall discussions specifically mention picnic areas.

“I was surprised to see it in the wording,” she said.

In response, Director of Public Works Peter Riggs told the Common Council he drafted the ordinance as presented because some council members said in the past they had concerns about dogs in areas where children congregate.

“The intent of the discussion as I interpreted it was that we had concerns about having those animals in areas where people congregate, or children might congregate,” he said. “If you folks feel it is appropriate, you can make an amendment to remove that section from the ordinance.”

“I tried to structure it in a way that provided you guys some flexibility if you needed to change things,” Riggs added.

In the first amendment, Heft motioned to delete picnic areas from the ordinance and seconded by Kott, which passed 6-2 with Schultz and Rauch as the two opponents.

Kott, however, did have concerns about the annual Chocolate Festival, where hundreds of people converge and could create safety concerns.

“There are a lot of people, and suddenly, there are dogs everywhere on leashes and kids running,” she said.

Kott motioned to amend the ordinance to make reference to the annual Chocolate Festival and it was seconded by District 4 alderman Thomas Preusker.

The second amendment passed 5-3 with Theresa Meyer (District 1), Bob Grandi (District 2) and Todd Bauman (District 4) voting against the measure.

To read the entire story see the April 11 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.