Dubuque dog owners want to repeal park ban - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque dog owners want to repeal park ban

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

For more than 40 years, the City of Dubuque has banned dogs from most of its parks.

Now, people who signed a petition with nearly 1,000 signatures want to repeal the ban.

For Linda Meyer, her seven-month-old mini Labradoodle Cooper is a member of the family. Wednesday afternoon they were playing at Dubuque's pet park, but at most city parks, Meyer's furry family member isn't welcome.

"I mean, there's only like two or three parks here in the city that they're allowed. You know, you get tired of going to the same parks," Meyer said. "It would be nice to take him on some of the trails. We have our grandchildren with us a lot. They like to go hiking. We're limited to where we can go because they also have a dog."

Meyer signed a petition with nearly 1,000 other people, asking the city to repeal its decades-long ban on dogs in most city parks.

Robin MacFarlane owns canine training company That's My Dog and helped organize the petition drive.

"I think the city needs to just have that thought process that they're having with everything else in development: this makes it a more attractive place for tourists, and a lot of tourists are pet-owners now, so I think it's time for the change," MacFarlane said.

For others, however, the ban is in place to ensure safety in Dubuque's parks.

Jim Kress spoke in favor of the continued ban at Tuesday night's Park and Recreation Commission meeting.

"If a child gets bit, it's to the hospital emergency room, follow-up doctor calls, possibly rabies shots," Kress said Wednesday afternoon at his home. "That child could be physically and emotionally scarred for life."

Joel Jackle-Hugh played with this young son Kyle at Murphy Park afternoon. He said although he understands why Dubuque dog owners would want to bring their dogs to city parks, his concern lies with sanitation.

"Owners don't necessarily clean up after their pets, and that's a major concern for not only for the well-being of him," Jackle-Hugh said, holding his son, "but [all] people who use the park."

The chairman of Dubuque's Parks and Recreation Commission is Paul Hoffman. He said he would have concerns about the city's liability if dogs were allowed in every city park.

However, proponents of lifting the ban say, responsible dog owners clean up after and watch over their pets.

The commission will revisit the issue at its July 10 meeting. Hoffman asked all the members to come up with ideas for the ban before then. Afterward, members hope to pass on a recommendation to the city council. Hoffman said a partial repeal, meaning dogs in some parks, may be possible, but there are no decisions yet.

Iowa City, Waterloo and Cedar Rapids allow dogs in their city parks. The animals must be on a leash, however.

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