Vail Daily letter: Re-evaluate Avon leash law
I have a very sweet 5-year-old cocker spaniel poodle mix who loves one thing, playing fetch. I also have a very rambunctious 4-year-old who loves playing at the park. So, on one of the first few nice and warm days we’ve had, I take my pup and daughter to our neighborhood Nottingham Park to stretch my dog’s winter legs playing fetch in the soccer field while my daughter plays with the other children on the playground. While we were there, another family had the same idea with their children and dog, who was easily the size of a small bear (also off a leash) walking around the playground playing with the children. As I am throwing the stick to my persistent, never tiring dog, cheering on my daughter as she slides down the slide and picking up trash around the playground, multi-tasking as moms do, I am approached by two Avon policemen. The first asks me if I was aware of the leash law and that my dog is not allowed to “run at large.” I laughed a little and said, “I think she is only running after the stick, but no, I don’t have a leash and was not really aware although I had heard mutterings of such a law.”
The leash law — I’ve lived in Avon and have been coming to Nottingham Park countless times over the last three years. I’ve seen people walking their dogs on leashes, I’ve seen people walking with their dogs off the leash but under voice command, I’ve seen people playing fetch and Frisbee with their dogs on the same field I was on playing with my dog and I’ve seen people swimming with their dogs in the lake. We have worked with our dog on commands since she was a pup and so well that she has a hard time grasping the concept of the leash when we do have to use it. She is always close to my side unless I let her know it’s time to fetch. Never once have I ever seen any issues arise at the park because, well, we are all adults and know whether or not our dogs can control themselves off the leash or if they are better suited for restraint.
Back to the men in blue. I told the policemen that, no, I didn’t have a leash and I will just get my daughter and we will be on our way back home. As I made a move toward the trashcan to throw away the garbage I picked off the ground, the cop hollered at me to stay where I was as he wasn’t done talking to me yet. He then asked me for my ID, which I didn’t have … at the park … that I walked to … imagine that, and kept pressing on the fact that I didn’t bring my driver’s license with me. He then proceeded to issue me a citation in front of my 4-year-old daughter and all the other mothers, fathers and children at the park. You can imagine my disbelief and embarrassment. I understand the “don’t kill the messenger” part of the policeman just doing his job, but that seemed very unnecessary. Had my dog been running wild, unruly and disturbing other families in the park I would have graciously accepted the ticket, but the only thing she was chasing was a stick. Sending me on my way with a warning and sparing me from having to have my family and neighbors watch as I was issued this ridiculous ticket would have been sufficient. I would think these guys would rather be shaking hands and kissing babies to ensure the votes they so desperately want so they can have their new building (another rant for another time).
I know what you are probably wondering — “What happened to the great big dog that was also off a leash and walking around on the playground, too?” He was on the other side of the playground and the two cops walked passed him to issue me the citation for my “dog at large.” The funny part is that this is the first encounter my 4-year-old has ever had with the cops — needless to say she is very confused as to why “the cops are being mean to Mommy and the dog instead of catching bad guys?” I don’t know, honey, I just don’t know.
As much as this is a rant by a very disgruntled Avon resident about the priorities of the Avon Police force, more importantly I urge people to start speaking up for our four-legged friends. Only allowing our dogs the hours between 6 to 9 a.m., a time that most of us are getting our children and ourselves ready for school and work, to run free in a tiny little area of Nottingham Park is so sad and unfair to the people who pay a great deal to live in this neighborhood. I know that people are mature enough dog owners to know when their animal should or shouldn’t be on a leash. I know this because I’ve witnessed it the last three years we have lived in this neighborhood and have been coming to Nottingham Park. Should any problems unfold, well then the cops can come and issue those “dog at large” tickets — they apparently have the time. If you want to forbid people from walking around town with their dogs off the leash, fine, one battle at a time, but the town of Avon really needs to re-evaluate the leash law in the park and designate a big enough space for our dogs to be able to run off leash in Nottingham Park while we watch our kids play on the playground. It seems unnecessary for me to pack my daughter and dog in a car to drive them to the dog park in Edwards or up in Wildridge when I live next to one of the best parks in the valley. I know what you might be thinking, “Maybe you should re-evaluate where you’re living,” and maybe I should, but I cannot be the only dog lover who feels this way. We need to fight for a bigger dog area with reasonable hours so all of us, furry ones included, can enjoy the beauty that is Nottingham Park at the same time. If they are asking us to vote in favor of a new fire house and police station, then I don’t think it is too much to ask for the residents of Avon to have a bigger dog area to exercise our dogs at favorable hours.