No two issues stir the passion like dogs and ballfields.
Both will be addressed in one item on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly’s meeting tonight.
Ordinance 1948, if adopted, would eliminate a provision that allows dogs to be off-leash on Weiss Fields for exercise and training before and after team practice and games and other activities scheduled through the borough’s Public Works Department.
The rule is redundant with another code that gives the borough manager the authority to set the rules that allow dogs to be off leash on the fields.
Historically, the Weiss Fields have been used for dog exercise and training. But code requires that the dogs be on leash, according to the borough.
But dog feces and holes dug in the field are a recurring problem. The dogs’ presence also has impeded Public Works’ maintenance of the field.
This has prompted complaints to the borough by softball players who wish to use the field without stepping in feces and holes. The borough’s 2020 Field Usage and Development Study showed that a “field free of dog poop” was second in importance only to “field safety.” Those, in some instances, can be one and the same, meaning that a clean, well-groomed field is the top priority of the people for whom the field was developed. Those people include children who go to the field with adults.
It would be preferred that people and dogs could play well together, and maybe they can. But some people need better training. Some dog owners, who use the waste station bags, then throw them over the fence instead of disposing of them properly.
Dog owners who follow the rules can exercise and train their dogs on leash in many places throughout the community. They also have access to a dog park in Ward Cove.
If the Assembly adopts Ordinance 1948, then the manager’s office will draft rules of conduct for the Weiss Fields for people. The people will be responsible for seeing that their dogs’ behavior is in accordance with those rules. They also will be asked to follow both the letter and the intent of the rules.
In that is the solution to the problem broached annually at the start of softball season.