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 Tuesday.
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 are the top complaint from the public, ahead of complaints of off-road vehicles on park and conservation land.
Nicole Montano, animal protection manager for SCRAPS, said a bicyclist suffered a broken leg in one incident involving an off-leash dog.
County Commissioner Mark Richard said during a briefing Tuesday 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 even leashed dogs at Plantes Ferry Park during large soccer events.
During the leash emphasis, authorities will be issuing citations for other violations, including not having a dog license, which carries a $200 fine, or going onto parkland with a motorized vehicle.
Letting a dog run at large, failure to have a current rabies vaccination or having a threatening dog are all violations carrying $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 will work with user groups and volunteers for greater cooperation and understanding among users and improvements to park areas, Robinson said.
The leash emphasis patrols will make most of their contacts with dog owners at parking areas, but there will also be some patrols within the park areas. Warnings will be issued in some cases.