De Pere parks could be going to the dogs
By Lee Reinsch
DE PERE – De Pere may be getting ready to chew over its policy on dogs in parks.
About a year ago, Brown County began allowing well-behaved leashed dogs in county parks.
All county parks are considered to be on-leash, dog-friendly parks except Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve, trails north of Lineville Road, and the Reforestation Camp, although dogs are allowed on trails south of Lineville Road.
Playground areas, picnic areas, buildings and most organized events in county parks are off-limits to dogs.
De Pere resident and Brown County Supervisor Jim Kneiszel, who represents District 19 encompassing De Pere’s east side, told the De Pere parks board Sept. 19 the county’s relaxed policy has been received with favorable feedback.
“More and more people view their pets as part of the family, and they truly appreciate being able to go to more places with their pets,” Kneiszel said.
He also spoke as a private citizen and member of Wisconsin Boston Terrier Rescue, which walks dogs 5 miles a day.
Kneiszel asked De Pere to consider allowing dogs on leashes in city parks, especially grassy areas.
“I’d like to be able to walk through the parks with my dog,” he said. “I don’t think it would be any different from what we have now; I see dogs in the parks and I know they’re not supposed to be there.”
De Pere, for the most part, doesn’t allow dogs in city parks, other than in certain areas of Voyageur Park, and in parks where they are sanctioned as part of the city’s goose patrol program.
Leashed dogs are permitted on the downtown riverwalk and on trail systems such as East River Trail and Preserve Trail.
It would be good to get dogs off pavements when it’s hot out, he said.
“It’s not advisable to walk them 2 to 3 miles on hot sidewalks; it’s not good for the pads of their feet,” Kneiszel said.
Opening more areas would give canines and their humans the opportunity to spend more time outdoors in a natural setting.
He said De Pere could use the opportunity to clarify its enforcement rules and encourage people to license their dogs.
“From what I can see, about 1 percent of people register their pets,” he said.
Licenses should be clearly displayed, leashes should be 5 to 8 feet long maximum and non-retractable.
Retractable leashes are no longer seen as safe, he said. And, of course, owners should clean up after their dogs.
Marty Kosobucki, director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, said he wanted to discuss the issue and bring it back to a future parks board meeting for a vote.
As points of reference, he cited some policies of neighboring communities:
• Allouez and Ashwaubenon allow dogs in village parks, but not park buildings, picnic areas, playgrounds or sports fields.
• In Howard, dogs on leashes no longer than 8-feet are welcome in village parks, and on park roads, sidewalks, trails and natural areas where they don’t interfere with human park users. Dogs aren’t allowed in park shelters, picnic areas, buildings, play areas, athletic fields or at public events.
• Bellevue doesn’t allow dogs in its parks, with the exception of the village’s dog park and on the East River Trail.
• Green Bay doesn’t allow them in parks, although pet owners can walk them on leashes no longer than 7-feet around park perimeters, pass-through walkways, parking lots or designated trails.
Kosobucki said De Pere’s park makeup is similar to Ashwaubenon’s in number of sports fields, while Brown County has more natural areas.
He said user groups such as youth sports teams are mixed in their opinions about dogs in parks.