Duke's Scoop

For six months I worked at Heart of the Rockies Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center in Salida. Working at the Visitors Center in Salida was enjoyable. Being a first contact and reference for many of the people who come into Salida was quite an honor.

It was a privilege to share the beauty, history, and culture of Salida with people curious about our town. When people came in amazed, helping them was a blessing. They didn’t always come in happy, however, and it saddened me when they didn’t come in with a smile, because I never wanted anyone to be disappointed with our little nook in the Heart of the Rockies.

When people came in disgruntled, without a doubt one of the most common complaints from people passing through Salida was about how Salida interacts with dogs. A first question we often got from people who have dogs is, “Is there a place where I can take my dog with me when I go eat? A patio or anything?” There are, but only a few in Salida, I would say.

After that they usually asked, “Why can’t we have dogs in the parks? I can’t even order takeout and sit with my dogs on the grass.”

Truth be told, I never had an answer to that question, because ever since I moved here, I have been asking myself the same thing. It is confusing to live in a place where such a large portion of the population owns dogs, and yet we cannot venture into public parks in town with our dogs.

I am from Colorado, and of everywhere I have lived in Colorado, as far as I know, this rule is strictly a Salida one. I felt empathy every time someone complained because I don’t understand why dogs aren’t allowed in parks.

Now, I will not go into the history as to why dogs are not allowed in parks here. Instead, I am only going to talk about what visitors had said to me.

While working at the chamber of commerce and Visitors Center I received multiple emails, calls and messages about how people will never come to Salida again because “Salida is not a dog-friendly town.” These came from various people traveling from the Front Range for a day or across the country.

The complaints came from men, women, elderly and young. People were flabbergasted as to why Salida would segregate dogs from parks. I saw people, calm people, decide they would rather leave Salida than leave their dogs in the car.

In my opinion there are two obvious questions presented by not allowing dogs into parks. The first is an economic one. Salida is driven by people who love to travel through our town. Doesn’t Salida suffer when people stop visiting our town? The second one is a little harder to explain because it hits so close to home. Is Salida truly not dog friendly?

Victor Aziz has two dogs and loves to walk them. He said he wishes the best possible life for his canine family.