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Sunday, February 23, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Out & About: Loose dogs an issue on area trails

Wildlife experts suggest hikers keep dogs leashed. (Rich Landers)
Wildlife experts suggest hikers keep dogs leashed. (Rich Landers)

OUTLAWS – The flu season is fading, but the poo season appears to be reaching epidemic levels in some popular urban trail systems around the region.

The Pend Oreille Bay Trail was an offensive mess when the snow first melted last month, prompting a group of volunteers to glove up and bag the piled evidence of poor pet management.

The Friends of the (South Hill) Bluff Doo Crew has grown to at least 10 volunteers who tend the scat bag dispensers and collect deposits in collection bins each week.

The Doo Crew has made a huge difference in the look and odor of the popular bluffs trail system below High Drive, although it’s still perplexing why hikers and bikers can’t take their dog’s poop home with them.

Part of the problem is the rampant disregard for the Spokane County leash law that requires dogs to be under their owners immediate control.

It’s pretty darned easy to “not notice” that your unleashed dog just dropped a load 30 yards up or back along the trail.

The other problem with loose dogs in public areas is that they frighten some people by running up on them.

They occasionally bite them or the dog they’re walking on leash.

You only need to have one toothy encounter with an uncontrolled dog to be wary of every pet that runs your direction.

The loose dog problem is growing in Spokane County Conservation areas. These large open spaces with delightful trail systems, such as Antoine Peak and Glenrose, are attracting more people every year, and more dogs, too.

On a recent sunny weekend at Iller Creek-Rocks of Sharon area, about dozen dogs were counted on a cruise through the trail system. Half of them were off leash.

However, overall compliance with dog-lease requirements seems to be improving at the county conservation areas, said John Bottelli, County Parks assistant director.

“Dogs must always be on a leash when not in a designated off-leash area,” he said. “Spokane County’s parks and natural areas are extensively used for all kinds of recreation and off-leash dogs have significant impacts on the safety and enjoyability of park lands.

“In natural areas off-leash dogs can disturb wildlife and degrade sensitive habitat.”

As a reminder, he said, “Having your dog off-leash in a nondesignated off-leash County Park can result in an $87 fine ( Spokane County Code 5.04.070).”

Off-leash opportunities for pets include dog parks along the Spokane River at:

• High Bridge Park west of downtown,

• Gateway Park off I-90 at the stateline.

Fishtrap Lake and other U.S. Bureau of Land Management areas west of Spokane provide thousands of acres for dogs to romp.

Suggestion: When unleashing dogs on public BLM lands and national forests, stay away from designated trails. Go cross-country to avoid bothering other recreationists.

Rich Landers

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