Dog owners and DogPAC want to be seen as the victims in this debate.They dismiss the valid concerns of most skiers about conflicts and the real danger of mixing dogs, both on and off-leash, with skiers in already crowded areas. They repeatedly assert that few problems would occur because the vast majority of dog owners are conscientious, in full control of their pets, and willing to abide by rules and regulations set forth by the Forest Service.
I hope this is all true, but let's look at the record. Seven off-leash dog parks were opened here in town, and those of us who participated in meetings about them were assured that one great benefit of the parks would be a reduction in conflicts and better adherence to existing laws about leashes and waste clean up. I vividly remember speaking with a police officer who assured me that these laws would be enforced. Well, you have only to walk (carefully!) through any park or along any trail in Bend, and you'll see about half of the dogs unleashed despite obvious signage, and plenty of dog piles.
I submit that DogPAC, (Bend) Parks and Rec., and the police haven't been able to [convince] many owners to adhere to the rules here in town, so why should we think it'll be any better at the ski areas?
I am not unwilling to share space in the forest, but it's a two-way street. I already share my front yard with dogs as they pass by. When I can walk out to the mailbox without stepping in what they share with me, then perhaps I'll have more confidence in DogPAC's assertions.
- Jim Mahoney, Ben