Ordinance changes for dogs in Madison parks heads to full council

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- It’s not a simple walk in the park when it comes to Madison’s rules to take your pooch to the park.

It’s something the Madison Parks Commission is hoping to change and is awaiting approval from the full Common Council.

Right now, out of the 207 parks in Madison only 26 of those allow dogs on a leash. Eight of the parks allow off-leash dogs. For nearly half a century, a Madison ordinance has limited the number of parks that allow dogs.

On Wednesday night, the park board passed an ordinance that would permit leashed dogs in the city’s parks with some restrictions.

Dogs would be still be banned at some park-owned sites including golf courses, playgrounds, cemeteries, conservation parks, splash parks, Goodman Pool, Breese Stevens Field, and Olbrich Botanical Gardens.

The full Common Council is scheduled to vote on those changes at its meeting on Feb. 25. If it passes there, the measure won’t go into effect until signs are added to parks and other changes are made, which will likely happen in the Spring.

Alder Paul Skidmore, who serves on the Board of Park Commissioners said it’s about setting rules for the parks for people to enjoy, whether they own a dog or not.

“We need reasonable ways to control behavior and make sure there’s an appropriate mix of inclusion,” said Skidmore. “The problem as many people on the Parks Commission agreed, is it is not so much a problem with the dogs and the dog owners, and we need reasonable ways to control behavior.”

David Dexheimer walks his two dogs, Angel and Zola, daily after a recent move. They no longer have a big yard and wants to have a place to let them exercise, on-leash, like the Madison parks.
"My hope is that two things, first of all owners will be responsible, keep them on a leash, and pick up after their dogs, and also that the City won't set up dog owners for failure by providing some of that infrastructure that we need like a trash can to put the stuff in and bags to pick it up with,” said Dexheimer.

Information regarding the policy changes will be given to those purchasing dog licenses and dog park permits regarding the expectations of dog owners in parks.

(Source: City of Madison)