Daily News editorial

We need a leash law for dogs at the park at Lake Sacajawea and we would like to see the Longview City Council pass one – soon.

We love our dogs, but it is a hazard when a dog runs around untethered at the lake when we are trying to enjoy a few moments with our pets.

The Longview City Council needs to put a leash law in place at Lake Sacajawea – and to do it now.

How many readers have had a bad dog experience at the lake? We expect many people have been attacked, accosted or scared in some way by an unleashed dog at Lake Sacajawea.

The lake sometimes is referred to as the “jewel” of Longview, and rightfully so. The park is a great place to exercise, to see wildlife, enjoy a picnic, entertain a child on the playground equipment, shoot photos or to do any other number of activities.

We don’t have statistics on how many people visit the park on a daily basis, but even on the worst weather days, people can be seen walking and running the path at the lake. During the summer, people can be seen out and about at the lake from early in the morning until after the sun sets in the evening.

Most of us probably agree the lake is great place, but it could be better.

During the election cycle of 2017, the TDN editorial board interviewed candidates and incumbents for the Longview City Council. One question we asked all of them was, “Would you support a leash law?”

The overwhelming answer by everyone was yes.

During our meeting with Diane Quast, we learned her small dog had been attacked and injured by another dog off leash at Lake Sacajawea. Can you imagine how horrible of an experience that must have been?

Not surprisingly, Quast is in favor of a leash law.

Incumbent Chet Makinster, who was re-elected, said he would support a leash law, adding he and his dog have been harassed by other dogs at the lake.

MaryAlice Wallis, who is just starting her first term on the council, indicated support for a leash law, too.

TDN endorsed incumbent Steve Moon in his re-election bid, and Moon told TDN he would support a leash law if he remained on the council.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s get this done.

All of the folks mentioned above also discussed “quality of place.” Quality of place means different things to different people, but it includes availability of — and access to — good schools, parks, quality healthcare, transit, shops, entertainment and cultural amenities.

Quality of place also includes safety — safety from being attacked by a dog running freely at a public park.

We know at least three current City Council members support some sort of leash law. We also believe all members of the council want to promote and enhance the quality of place in Longview, especially at Lake Sacajawea.

The TDN editorial board is proposing a leash law for Lake Sacajawea. A simple law that states, “All dogs at the park at Lake Sacajawea must be on a leash and under control at all times.”

You might wonder why our suggestion is for a Lake Sacajawea leash law only. Our thought process is by keeping the leash law as straightforward as possible, it will be easier to pass. The more burdensome and widespread a new ordinance becomes, the harder it is to gain support for it. By keeping the leash law to the park only, the ordinance will be simple and easy to understand.

Will there be questions and opponents? Most certainly. Whenever a new law is proposed, someone will be against it.

The number one question likely will be about enforcement. The Longview Police Department can make a suggestion as to the best way to implement a prospective leash law. Perhaps some type of ticket and fine.

Parks are paid for by the public. Anyone who wants to enjoy Lake Sacajawea should be able to do so without being afraid. Obviously, dog owners and their pets could visit the park at any time, but owners would need to keep their dogs leashed and under control.

As we’ve said on these page before, the dogs aren’t the problem, the problem is the dog owners.

We hope you, the reader, can get behind this effort to establish a leash law at the park at Lake Sacajawea. Call the members of the Longview City Council and tell them your opinion. Tell your friends and neighbors to do the same thing.

Then maybe we can all start to enjoy the park again.

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