Anchorage Assembly creates dog parks

Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) The Anchorage Assembly made dog owners happy Tuesday by voting 10-1 to establish six off-leash parks at sites scattered around the municipality.

More than 100 people showed up for the meeting and dozens testified before the vote.

The fashion trend of the gathering was orange plastic. Dog park supporters donned carrot-colored bags that typically hold newspapers but are often used to pick up feces. Men tucked the orange bags into breast pockets like handkerchiefs or wore them as neckties. Women tied them into their hair or fastened them on like corsages.

The orange relayed a united message: People love their pooches and believe their pets deserve parks.

''I have a bone to pick with the assembly because there's no dog park in town,'' said Gloria Maschmeyer, who wore a chunky dog bone around her neck and dog ears fastened out of orange plastic on her head. ''It's inhumane not to have one. Do we expect dogs to live indoors and never run free?''

Dog parks were authorized a year ago in a rewrite of the city animal control laws. The process kicked into high gear when the Animal Care and Control Center announced in June it planned to start enforcing leash laws in city parks.

Assembly Chairman Dick Traini's ordinance establishes six municipal sites for off-leash parks: University Lake Park; the North Gasline Trail in Far North Bicentennial Park, and in summer, some nearby skijoring trails; Connors Bog; a little-used trail in Russian Jack Park; an unused field in the South Anchorage Sports Park; and the old Alaska Native Medical Center site on Third Avenue downtown.

The ordinance includes a sunset clause, listing the sites as trial parks through Sept. 30, 2004.

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