Dogs, the consummate companions. Friendly, loyal and playful, they are the perfect date for a day at the park.
Most of Carson City' parks, however, are not dog friendly. There are a variety of reasons only seven city parks, just two finished and landscaped parks, are open to dogs. There are liability issues of canines mingling with park visitors, playing badly with other dogs, disrupting sporting events, plus the unsavory prospect of extra cleanup duty that comes with managing puppy-admitting parks.
"Even in dog-friendly parks, we run into problems with people not managing their pets well, or not cleaning up after them," said Carson City Parks and Recreation Director of Operations Scott Fahrenbruch. "It would deplete our resources if we made all parks dog friendly right now."
Still, more than half the households in Carson City contain at least one dog and a consultant hired by the city to help interpret results of a parks and recreation survey thinks those residents may make more use of local parks if they could just take their dogs.
It's just a theory, he said, but most Carson City residents who responded to a six-page survey sent randomly to 3,000 residents early this summer indicated they're satisfied with the city's parks. Then again, they also said they only visit them "several times a year." The only other possible answers included "several times a week" and "several times a month."
When asked why they don't visit parks more, a large portion of respondents, answered "other." Dog-friendliness was not an option and Jeff Winston, of the consulting firm Winston Associates, wondered whether dog owners may just not want to leave their pet at home on a day set aside for recreation.
"The reason I go down (to Fuji Park) is because of my dog," said Carson City resident David Forbes.
Two of Carson City's three most-used parks, according to the survey, are dog friendly.
Mills Park, which does not allow dogs, is the city's most-frequented park. The second and third most popular are Fuji Park, a finished park in South Carson City next door to the Fairgrounds; and Riverview Park, a natural park in east Carson City.
Forbes said he understands the city's varied reasons for banning pets at most of its parks, but thinks a few more should have some fencing and be open to man's best friend.
Trail systems and natural-state parks like Riverview sometimes have coyotes roaming about, Forbes said, and they may not be the best place for non-aggressive dogs like his Australian shepherd.
Fahrenbruch said the parks department is reviewing its policies to see if there should be more opportunities for dog-friendly recreation, and to consider whether the city should pay the extra expense for the manpower more dogs would necessitate.
"If (dog) owners cleaned up better after their pets, that would go a long way," he said.
n Contact reporter Cory McConnell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.
In what Carson City parks are dogs welcome?
Finished, landscaped parks:
• Fuji Park
• Mayors Park
• Riverview Park wetlands
• Linear Park Trail
• Long Ranch Estates
• Saliman Road Trail
• Virginia & Truckee Trail
• Carson River Park