Denver woman leads effort to relax dog leash laws in city

Posted on: 10:19 pm, May 16, 2013, by , updated on: 06:41am, May 17, 2013

DENVER — More like a family member than a pet, Monica Brisnehan’s golden retriever Wally can’t wait to enjoy a day out at Washington Park.

“He’s ball obsessed,” Brisnehan said. “He loves to play fetch, and it would be nice to have a place where to throw the ball”

But that’s not going to happen today, at least not in Washington Park. Right now, Denver’s city laws require dogs, except in specific pet parks, to be on a leash at all times.

It’s a law Brisnehan believes needs to change.

“By today (Thursday) we have approximately 300 signatures, which is a far more positive response than I was expecting,” Brisnehan said.

Through an online petition, Brisnehan and others are hoping to persuade Denver city leaders to change the leash laws and become more like New York and Boston, which let dogs roam freely at certain times like 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.

The idea, while likely to be favored by any k-9, isn’t winning over every human. Some worry letting dogs roam free, even at night, could create public safety issues.

“There are a lot of dogs that are not under control,” park goer Karrie Ratliffe said. “So it’s dangerous. You never know how they’re going to react in any situation.”

While there may be leash requirements in popular places like Washington Park, the city says there are 10 off-leash spots available for dogs.

Brisnehan says that isn’t enough, and is still determine to fight for change. While she admits it will still be a long uphill battle to change those leash laws, it’s a cause she believes every pet owner can wrap their head around.