Denver, CO

Rangers plan crackdown on off-leash dogs at Cheesman Park

David Heitz
Caleb Fisher/Unsplash

By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) To the casual observer visiting Denver parks, it may appear the city lacks a leash law.

Owners frequently frolic with unleashed dogs in Denver greenspaces. Observers spotted several unleashed dogs in Martin Luther King Park this Fourth of July weekend, for example.

On Friday, a constituent asked City Councilmember Chris Hinds during a Facebook live why the city does not enforce its leash law. Hinds responded that he recently discussed the issue with the head of the city's park rangers, who said special enforcement is coming.

Cheesman Park popular off-leash location

Hinds represents District 10, which includes Capitol Hill and other neighborhoods. The woman who complained about dogs off-leash specifically mentioned, Cheesman Park.

"Park rangers do ticket for off-leash dogs," Hinds responded. "The strategy is to lead with education and to lead with awareness, but yes there are definitely people getting off-leash tickets."

Hinds said even he received an off-leash ticket, although "not recently because my dog passed away in August and I have not replaced him."

Hinds said that Park rangers plan to add some additional enforcement to Cheesman in recent weeks. "If we telegraph when the rangers are coming, it may reduce the effectiveness."

Graffiti, motorcycles plague Cheesman
Cheesman Park in Denver.City and County of Denver

Other issues at Cheesman also have attracted the attention of park rangers, too, Hinds said. "Partly because of the graffiti in Cheesman, partly because of the motorcycle riders that have been rolling through the barricades and onto the grass and doing donuts on the grass, which isn't acceptable either, as well as off leash dogs."

A fact sheet published by the city reminds dog owners why keeping dogs on leash is the law. "Even if a dog has perfect recall, an owner cannot control the world around them," the sheet reports. "An unleashed dog could be attacked by another animal (including wildlife that might spread disease) or struck by a motor vehicle. The leash is there to protect your dog from the world as much as it's there to protect the world from your dog."

Off-leash dogs cause lawsuits

Dogs off-leash also lead to lawsuits, as evidenced by the law firms that pop up when Googling "Denver dog leash law."

"Bad things are simply more likely to happen when dogs run loose, and owners are liable for their dog's actions," according to the fact sheet. "A leash provides emergency control over your pet. A court may determine that letting a dog off leash is reckless. So, if something goes wrong, an owner could find themselves in legal hot water over a bite, property damage, etc."

Denver recognizes that many people take their dogs off the leash at parks. "Many people think it is okay to let their dogs off leash because they see other people doing it," the fact sheet acknowledges. "However, dogs running loose aren't good for anyone. Set a good example as a responsible pet owner and keep your furry family members leashed."

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career at local newspapers. Today, I report on Denver and Aurora city halls for NewsBreak. Prior to joining NewsBreak, I worked several years as a health reporter and branded content writer in the healthcare space. I also worked many years as a news editor and city editor. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver.

Denver, CO

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