Why ‘no dog’ rules?

Salida Rotarians were setting up for lunch at Thonhoff Park for last September’s Colorado Grand visit: really nice catered meal, tablecloths, linen napkins, etc., all set up on a beautiful, sunny day.

Rotarians wanted to make a good impression. The owners of these – in some cases – million-dollar cars are, let’s say, some above middle-income status. And for Rotarians’ efforts, Colorado Grand drops a hefty donation along the way, which it has done more than a dozen times here over the years.

That’s when someone noted – or maybe stepped in – dog doo in the park grass. Rotarians started looking closer … and it wasn’t pretty. A volunteer improvised a scoop and set out with a grocery bag to clean up the park. After scouring the grass for some 45 minutes he had a bulging sack and 5-plus pounds of dog feces.

Many dog owners faithfully pick up their BFF’s leavings. But as was obviously the case at Thonhoff Park, some others do not.

It is because of these “some others” that Salida established its “No dogs in city parks” rule.

Salida’s parks get heavy use. Alpine Park hosts popular farmers’ markets every Saturday from early summer to late fall. It would not be exactly sanitary to be selling vegetables, breads, cookies, etc., with customers navigating around dog poo.

Riverside Park features events throughout the summer, from Memorial Day to mid-September. Folks enjoy sitting in the park’s grass, taking in the music. Kids run in and around the playground.

This is not to mention the dangers dog attacks in a crowded city park pose to people, to unwary kids or other dogs.

We’ve had comments that Salida is not dog friendly, that some visitors with dogs have said they left early or are not going to come back because dogs are not allowed in city parks and that the city is not canine welcoming.

On the other hand, how many visitors would be turned off by having to dig dog poop from their Vibram soles or clean up their kids’ feet?

As noted above, many dog owners are religious about cleaning up after their and even others’ pets. They take care to ensure their animals are under control at all times. Not all dog owners, however, are as conscientious and therein is the problem.

Dogs in Riverside, Alpine, Thonhoff or any city park, for that matter, does not make sense.

So what can the city do to better accommodate, to be more friendly to dog owners and their pets? The dog park off Holman Avenue is barely a start. Because of the hard surfaces and gravel, some owners will not take their pets to the park.

Improvements including grass and an expansion to the park, if possible, would be a start. Developing another grassy park specifically for dogs across town and/or at Vandaveer when it’s developed could be other possibilities. Do dog owners have other ideas or suggestions?

In the interim, simply for cleanliness, for sanitary and safety reasons, the city should stick by its no-dogs-in-people-parks rule. The city has only a few parks, and they are too heavily used to make changes to the policy.

Volunteer innovation

Salida High School junior Sophie Pressly has come up with an innovative program to encourage students to volunteer at area nonprofits.

Students find sponsors who agree to pay for each hour students volunteer at local organizations, with proceeds to be used to pay for gifts for kids in need.

Talk about win-win-win-win: Students benefit from what they learn about volunteering and its lessons; sponsors contribute to nonprofits; organizations benefit from volunteers’ efforts; and the community benefits through donations, increased awareness of volunteering and kids’ gifts.

Great idea and good work!