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Unleashed dogs in Auburn parks disturb some residents

Law enforcement says issue is not a city ordinance
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Despite an ordinance prohibiting unleashed dogs in Auburn parks, local residents say they have seen many park-goers ignoring the rule. Local law enforcement and Auburn Parks and Recreation District staff say they work together to ensure residents comply with the ordinance, but some residents say they are afraid to use public land because of unleashed dogs. Carol Davis, of Newcastle, said she knows firsthand the danger dogs allowed to roam free can pose. She got in a major horse accident on a trail in the Folsom Lake Recreation Area when her horse was attacked by a German shepherd that was off its leash in April 2009. “There have been so many attacks, one myself, in Auburn and the surrounding areas and there are people not going along with what the law is, people not obeying the law,” Davis said. “People don’t listen.” Davis said she has been frustrated by dog owners who don’t comply and grown wary of going to public parks. “It’s just scary and you are just afraid to go use the public land,” Davis said. Kahl Muscott, district administrator for the parks and recreation district, said unleashed dogs are a violation of the Auburn Parks and Recreation District ordinance no. 1, section L, and subsection 2. He said there are people that break the ordinance though. When that does happen, Muscott said nobody in the recreation district has the authority to issue a citation for the ordinance. “We are aware that there are dogs off leash in our park all the time. When we do see that, we direct people to put their dogs on a leash,” Muscott said. “Local law enforcement has been great to work with on this and many issues; however we understand that they are under great strain with their budget.” Muscott said the rule is meant to protect all people who may want to use the park, in addition to the district’s athletic fields. “Dogs can be unpredictable and some people are afraid of dogs. It’s just common sense,” Muscott said. “Of importance to us also is dogs on athletic fields really do damage to the field.” For those looking for a place for their pooch to roam freely, Muscott said the Ashley Memorial Dog Park, at Ashford Park, is available. Auburn Police Chief John Ruffcorn said the police department does try to help the district, but it does not have the power to enforce the district’s ordinances because they are not a city ordinance. Ruffcorn said luckily most people comply when law enforcement asks them to leash their dogs. He said the Auburn Police Department seeks to help the parks district just like any other business, but when higher priority issues come up, officers are not usually sent to enforce the leash ordinance. When a situation rises to a criminal level, Ruffcorn said the police department will always step in. “The system is working, so I don’t think we need to create another arm of enforcement,” Ruffcorn said. “We don’t have issues. We live and work in a very safe city and generally a city where people watch out for each other.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.