Appleton approves dogs in parks, with conditions

Dog on Appleton Sidewalk on May 18, 2017 (WLUK/Mike Moon)

APPLETON (WLUK) - Dogs will soon be allowed in Appleton parks, but there will be restrictions when the ordinance takes effect in a few weeks.

The city council approved the change Wednesday night, after three attempts before had failed.

At the DePawsitory pet store in downtown Appleton, owner Ali Koestner has been an advocate for allowing dogs in parks.

"We wanna be able to enjoy our parks with our canine companions," Koestner told FOX 11 News.

Koesnter said she's happy to see the rules keeping dogs out entirely will be lifted soon.

"The only people that they were keeping out are irresponsible dog owners. So this is gonna open our parks to responsible people," she told us.

But there will be restrictions.

For example, all dogs will have to be on leashes and owners will be required to pick up after their pets. They could be fined up to $250 for not following these rules.

"Dogs will be allowed in parks, but only on the sidewalks or trails. They have to stay out of the pavilions, athletic fields, basketball courts or skate parks," explained Alderman member Kyle Lobner who brought the ordinance change to the council.

He told us with new council members and renewed public interest, it was time.

"One of the things we found in talking to our constituents for the comprehensive plan amendment is that alot of our constituents were very interested in living a community that's friendlier to dogs," Lobner explained.

This measure did not pass easily in this council. Seven council members voted for it. Seven voted against it. The mayor had to break the tie by voting to allow dogs in parks.

There are several concerns among people who do not want dogs in parks at all.

Those include the possibilities of owners leaving pet waste in the parks, causing health hazards, also dogs getting off leashes and harming people. Some cited the concern that it will be difficult to enforce the new rules, putting a burden on police.

Koestner told us responsible dog owners will have to set good examples.

"I hope that this will help the community see that there are ways that we can cohabitate together," she said.

The official wording of the new ordinance still needs to be settled. Lobner said he expects dogs to be allowed in parks within the next two or three weeks.

Only one of the seven council members who voted no has responded to our request for comment and that member declined to be interviewed citing health reasons.

A similar proposal was defeated last year.

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