SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - Salt Lake County officials are finally answering dog owners calls to create more off-leash dog parks in the city.
They’re considering doing a year-long trial at existing parks in the Salt Lake Valley, but some residents in the Canyon Rim neighborhood are concerned about the plans.
They say they don't want leash-free dogs roaming around their neighborhood park.
“I wouldn’t want it," said 7-year-old Cooper Allen. "We walk here to school everyday, we have soccer, and football practice over there, and sometimes, the school will even come out and do P.E. out here.”
Residents gathered at the Canyon Rim Park Wednesday afternoon to voice their concerns about the county’s plans to test their neighborhood park as an off-leash dog park.
“It’s a huge impact on us as families, as a community, as schools, and having dogs here without them being on a leash, they’re jumping on people, they’re making the area trampled and eroded," said Nicole Allen, a resident of Canyon Rim.
Canyon Rim resident Erin Payne also spoke about the proposal.
“Just recently in May, my 7-year-old was walking to school, and a dog on a leash, jumped on him, scratched his arm, put a hole in his shirt and knocked him right into the middle of the road," Payne said.
Officials from Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation said their proposal is still in the planning phases, but they are considering doing a year-long trial of off-leash dogs at at least six parks in the Salt Lake Valley, including Canyon Rim Park, Big Cottonwood Regional Park, Mountain Man Park, Flight Park Recreation Area, Valley Center Park and Scott Avenue Park.
“We’re very early in the process," said County Spokesperson Callie Birdsall. "So, we’re doing our due diligence to see what areas would work, not only for pet owners, as well as residents, in general.”
Allen says she is concerned after seeing the damage done at Tanner Park, which is a high traffic off-leash dog park located down the road from Canyon Rim.
“The smell is an issue," she said. "I brought my Cub Scouts here to do a park cleanup and every single one of them complained about the smell.”
Residents who support more off-leash parks say the county’s plans are an answer to their calls to create more off-leash areas in the city. They said residents who are opposed to off-leash parks should simply avoid the areas.
“If you’ve got really small kids there, then it’s kind of a conflict of interest," said Linda Gregersen, a dog walker at Big Cottonwood Regional Park. "So I would probably be very careful not to bring young kids, or to just have them very well-supervised.”
Birdsall says they will be taking public input before the parks are permanently designated as off-leash parks
“And it’s not something that happens overnight," she said. "This is a long process. So, we do a master plan process where we determine, what are the needs of the residents? Be it through surveys and public meetings, and then we go in and we create a plan saying, 'This is what we will do in the future based on the needs of the residents.'"
Residents who want to voice their concerns or get updates on the progress of these proposed test run off-leash dog parks can get information on the county's website by clicking here.