Icy Streets and Leash Laws Clash

(Crested Butte) The town council here may rescind a 150-year-old leash law, due to safety considerations, on Crested Butte’s icy streets and alleys. The action came Monday night as elected officials argued the merits of the long standing ordinance compared with the safety of its dog-walking citizens.

Arctic weather and seasonal moisture here have combined to create treacherous conditions, especially on the town’s north-side streets and alleys. Even Elk Avenue gets a little dicey early in the morning and after sunset.

When a pedestrian mixes an already precarious stroll with approved dog walking methodology a chain reaction is likely to take place. The walker often finds himself flat on his face, horizontal with the pavement, compliments of his  over-eager mutt. Of course, a well trained dog, accustomed to healing, will not create such a hazard but even the most well behaved animal cannot be expected to perform to perfection with all the distractions (canine and otherwise) common to the town limits.

“We need leash laws in Crested Butte or we’d have dogs running around everywhere,” said one councilperson. “The restrictions are necessary for the safety and well being of the animal as well as for the general populace. However when butted up against icy sidewalks and dangerous streets we must reconsider the legislation.”

In a rare departure from existing policy another councilman warned that a slick walk at the receiving end of aggressive canine thrust could easily result in injury, and possible lawsuits.

“If we just rescind the law during periods when the streets are bullet-proof  we might save everyone a lot of hassle,” he said. “We could operate along the lines of the parking laws with certain areas off limits on certain days. We could put up signs all over telling people when and where they could safely walk their dogs.”

Taking no action of the matter and leaving decisions in the hands of the people was not an option, according to the first council member who insisted that maintaining the current status would not solve the problem and that allowing people to police themselves was ridiculous.

“That’s like a Washington lobbyist volunteering for military duty in Iraq,” she said. “It may look good on paper but it will never happen. If we just suspend leash laws until mud season we should avoid disaster. When the real thaw arrives we might even implement higher fines for dogs at large and recoup our losses by June.”

After an hour of proposals it appeared that the law makers would suspend the leash laws for a trial period.

“Either we terminate the law altogether or groom Elk Avenue,” laughed one rogue councilman sitting in the back of the room. “What about protecting drunks and persons too busy talking into their cell phones to pay attention to the conditions? What about flatlanders unaccustomed to negotiating ice? They are people too!”

He then angrily departed the chambers, slamming his laptop, hurling his Sorrels and designer Italian sunglasses into the hallway for dramatic affect.

In other developments the remaining council members voted to deny further liquor licenses to canine groups (the first such action taken toward any applicant in over 30 years) and to ban heated dog houses due to cited high energy use in the often inefficient dwellings. Critics of the action say the council is merely punishing outside dogs for any part they might have in the crisis.

– Fred Zeppelin


Filed Under: Lifestyles at Risk

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