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Potential City Ban on Dogs in Parks

dogisignAs a tax paying resident of the city of Clarksville, I want to express my outrage that the city is trying to deny responsible pet owners and their leashed dogs their right to utilize public city parks and recreation areas. It is appalling that “doggie deposits” left by irresponsible pet owners at the Riverwalk, could result in responsible pet owners and their pets being banned.

I am referring to ORDINANCE 97-2008-09, which passed first reading by the city council at the June 4th meeting. This ordinance would give the city Parks & Recreation Department the authority to ban dogs at any city park or recreation area, for reasons of “protection of public health, welfare, or safety, or for aesthetic reasons.” Fortunately, as an ordinance, it must pass two readings before it becomes law.

I believe that if you tasked park workers to spend the next two weeks documenting the type of waste they cleaned up along the Riverwalk, that left by humans will far outweigh that left by pets. I refer to cigarette butts, fast food wrappers, soft drink cans, picnic refuse, etc. Why is human waste considered acceptable for parks workers to pick up, but they balk at scooping dog poop?

A doggie waste receptacle
A doggie waste receptacle

The proposed ban is a knee-jerk reaction, with absolutely no thought put into finding a solution that will allow everyone to enjoy these parks. In state parks such as Dunbar Cave, they provide receptacle bins just for dog waste, with appropriate signage advising dog owners of their responsibility to pick up after their pets. This would be a valid starting point in eliminating the problem.

The city could also implement an education program by working with local pet groups, such as the Kennel Club, veterinarians, local pet supply stores, and the Humane Society.

In law enforcement, you start with the lowest level of force necessary to resolve an issue. Then you escalate up the chain as needed. You don’t start out with deadly force simply because someone ran a stop sign. I ask that the city use this same common sense approach in dealing with the issue of dog waste in city parks.

I have contacted Parks Director Missy Graham and Mayor Johnny Piper about this issue, as well as my councilman and the other council members that serve on the Parks & Recreation Committee. I encourage everyone that finds this proposed ban on dogs as outrageous as I do to please contact your elected officials and make your voice heard. Email addresses and phone numbers can be found at http://www.cityofclarksville.com/.

I plan to attend the next meeting of the Parks & Recreation Committee and the next council meeting to show my support for those seeking to defeat the second reading of the ordinance concerning this issue.

Those of us that are responsible pet owners want nothing more than to exercise our legal rights to walk our well-behaved, leashed pets in city parks that our tax dollars pay for.

If you would like more information on this issue, feel free to contact me at .

Stacey R. Hopwood

Dogs running free in the bark park
Dogs running free in the bark park


  1. I can see how some people get upset if they step in or sit down for a picnic in dog droppings, which is how this ordinance began in the first place. I can also see how people should be able to walk their dogs in a park their tax dollars go to support. This is bordering on the whole pet license idea, whereby taxing responsible owners will somehow solve problems created by the irresponsible ones. There’s a really simple solution. Fine the people who’s dogs are leaving the mess the maximum amount prescribed by law. Additionally, have them serve the maximum amount of community service upon conviction cleaning up after dogs at the dog pound. There’s no need for a full time police officer to patrol the areas, just about everyone has a camera in their phone these days. Take a snapshot and claim your reward.

  2. The fact is, dog waste is NOT a problem. Yes, you’ll see a deposit here or there on occasion, but as a regular walker there, I can tell you that this is nothing but an excuse.

    I’ve also learned that Parks & Rec actually HAS dog waste receptacles, but they are in storage. I don’t know if they’ve ever been used (I’ve never seen them ever)but if they have been, why were they removed? If they were never used, why not?

    The bottom line is that the City Council should not gtive up their sworn duty to Parks and Rec. No one elected the officials there and they should not be able to make such sweeping edicts. Dogs are prohibited at the RiverWalk during special events and at other parks because they are sports parks. And that’s how it should be: a case by case basis decided by those we elected. To cede that power is to allow decisions to be made by the unelected based on what is best and easiest for them, not on what is best for the citizens.

    This ordiance was rushed in, by who or what I don’t yet know. It wasn’t on the agenda for the executive session May 28 as new business. From what I understand it wasn’t discussed yet by the Parks and Rec Committee. So what was it brought up for a vote?

    Parks use signs, fines and waste receptacles. Grounds keepers keep the grounds. That’s what other cities do and that is what Clarksville must do. For the council to do any less would be to shirk their duty. I have faith they will do the right thing. Most all of them talked with me about this and my hope is they will see the light.

  3. Scott, I’m not sure I want to eat strawberries from your garden. All animal droppings are not the same, especially dog and cat. The second you can start selling dog manure… give me a call.

    Check out the below link behind dog droppings as manure.


    Furthermore, grass is for kids to play on… which is great for health reasons (preventing childhood obesity and diabetes), both of which are epidemics in the US… especially the South.

    I’m not FOR banning dogs from the parks. I AM for dog bag dispensers within residences (apartment complexes and the likes) that accept pets as well as the local park areas.

    I found this and it is a little dated but I was surprised someone said it makes great fertilizer. Anyway, I was looking for city ordinances due to dogs because I literally just got dog poo all over my mtn. bike tires… some of which flipped up onto my bike seat and then on my hand because I rode my bike on the grass in my neighborhood. I’m almost 29… think about if this happened to a little boy or girl… mortified to ride their bike again because dog poo all over them. Just sayin’.

    “The health hazards associated with cat and dog manure are greater than the potential benefit from its fertilizer value. Cat and dog manure should be disposed of by flushing down the toilet, burying deep in the soil (six inches or more) or by placement in tight plastic bags for garbage collection. “

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