Dog concerns discussed

Published 3:59 pm Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Contributing Editor

Several people who addressed Washington’s City Council concerning dogs on the waterfront — and at other places in the city — told the council the problem is more with the dogs’ owners, not the dogs.
“The thing you have to do in controlling pets is controlling the owners,” said James Coke, who lives on East Second Street.
Coke said the city must enforce its animal-control ordinances and penalize animal owners who don’t abide by those ordinances. Coke also said allowing dogs on the waterfront is a good thing because it allows for interaction between children and dogs. Young children like bonding with puppies and vice versa, he said.
The appearance of several people who spoke about dogs and other animals at the council’s meeting Monday was, in part, sparked by comments about the presence of pets and their sniffing at booths at Saturday Market, which takes place on the western end of Stewart Parkway along the Pamlico River. Those comments appeared in the Sound Off section of the Washington Daily News.
Karen Tripp, a resident of East Main Street, echoed Coke’s views. Tripp said the owners of animals that visit the waterfront should be held accountable for their animals’ actions. Tripp said she and friends take it upon themselves to clean up after other animal owners fail to clean up after their dogs defecate on the waterfront.
“We do not want to lose the privilege of walking our dogs on the waterfront. We pick up other (dogs’} poop,” she said.
Ron Fortescue complained about people walking their dogs at city-owned cemeteries and allowing them to defecate on graves. Allowing that is disrespectful to those buried at the cemeteries, he said.
Dogs, whether on a leash or off a leash, are not allowed in city-owned cemeteries, city officials told Fortescue. Those officials told Fortescue that if he observes someone walking a dog in a city-owned cemetery, he should contact police.
Rebecca Clark, a dog owner, said prohibiting dogs on the waterfront would drive potential visitors to others areas that allow dogs on their waterfronts.
Trent Tetterton suggested expanding areas where dogs are allowed on leashes. He specifically cited the McConnell Sports Complex next to Warren Field Airport as a place where dogs should be allowed.
The council took no action after listening to the speakers. Mayor Archie Jennings suggested the pet owners abide by proper pet “etiquette” when taking their pets to the waterfront and special events in the city’s Harbor District.
“In terms of Saturday Market, I think it’s an etiquette issue,” Jennings said.
Washington’s City Code prohibits dogs or cats, including those restrained by leashes, from going onto any city-owned or leased athletic centers, parks, wetlands boardwalk or cemeteries (Oakdale and Cedar Hill), except for specified areas.
The public areas where dogs and cats may be walked follow:
• North bank of Jack’s Creek between Brown and MacNair streets;
• next to the Pamlico River on the west side of the Jack’s Creek Bridge across East Main Street (across from Armory Pointe Apartments);
• Between Maple Street and the Eastern Elementary School grounds;
• Pet owners may walk their pets on leashes along the Stewart Parkway promenade.
The code requires pet owners to remove feces deposited by their animals on public streets, highways, sidewalks, public property or on private property without that property owner’s permission.
For additional coverage of the council’s meeting, see future editions.