Dog leashes to be enforced at Spokane County parks

An emphasis patrol to enforce dog leash laws on 12,000 acres of Spokane County park and conservation lands is being launched later this week.

The Spokane County Parks Department is teaming up with other agencies to gain greater compliance with leash and license laws, parks Director Doug Chase said today.

A $140,000 state recreation grant will be used to pay for the patrols in conjunction with Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service and the sheriff’s office.

County Commissioner Todd Mielke said letting a dog run off leash “really destroys other people’s ability to enjoy these areas.”

Spokane County Park Ranger Bryant Robinson said dogs running off leash is the top complaint from the public, ahead of the No. 2 complaint of off-road vehicles going onto park land.

Parks officials said off-leash dogs may damage natural features, kill or injure wildlife, threaten or injure other park users or pets or may be injured themselves.

Nicole Montano, animal protection manager for SCRAPS, said a bike rider suffered a broken leg in one incident involving an off-leash dog.

County Commissioner Mark Richard said during a briefing today that his dogs were attacked by three off-leash dogs and when he confronted the owner of the off-leash dogs, he was threatened himself.

In another case, a dog owner ignored signs prohibiting dogs even on leashes at Plantes Ferry Park during large soccer events.

During the leash emphasis, authorities will be issuing citations for other violations, including not having a license, which carries a $200 fine, or going onto park land with a motorized vehicle.

Violations of letting a dog run at large, failure to have a current rabies vaccination or having a threatening dog all carry $87 fines.

The emphasis patrols over six weeks begin on Saturday at Antoine Peak Conservation Area.

They continue on Sunday at Liberty Lake Regional Park, June 23 at Dishman Hills Natural Area, June 24 at Liberty Lake and Saltese Uplands Conservation Area, June 30 at Slavin Conservation Area, July 7 at Bear Lake Regional Park and July 8 at Iller Creek Conservation Area.

The grant will provide funding for continuing enforcement over a two-year period, Chase said.

The money is also used for other enforcement and educational activities intended to keep parks and conservation areas safe and attractive for public use. Monitoring off-road vehicle use is part of the wider grant program, Robinson said.

The grant program also works with user groups and volunteers for greater cooperation and understanding among users and improvements to park areas, Robinson said.

The emphasis patrols will make most of their contacts with dog owners at parking areas, but there will also be some patroling within the park areas. Warnings will also be issued in some cases.

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