Eau Claire (WQOW) – The Otter Creek Dog Park is a great place for our four-legged friends to burn off some energy, but the park comes with a price that not everyone is willing to pay.
Not every dog owner who uses the park is paying to go in.
“There’s a daily fee, or they can choose to purchase an annual set of tags that will allow access to the area for an entire year,” said Todd Chwala, the community services manager for Eau Claire.
That money is important. Half of it goes to capitol improvement projects for more dog park amenities.
The ones who do pay, are frustrated with the ones who don’t.
Pat Williams is concerned for the health of her dog and all the others that are licensed, because they all have one thing in common.
“In order to purchase a license, the dog owners have to show proof that their dogs are up to date on vaccines and their dog licenses as well,” Chwala said.
“If the dogs aren’t vaccinated, it’s not safe for my dog, and I feel like they are cheating the people who are paying,” Williams said.
The number of dog owners licensing their pets has dropped in the last three years.
In 2016, 770 dogs were licensed. So far this year, that number is 660, but Williams said more than 660 are using the park.
There is some enforcement at the park though.
“We try to be as proactive as possible. Right at the beginning of the year, and beginning of the summer we do this little event where we have the animal control officers swing by with treats and licensing tags,” said Shoua Vue, the Senior Community Service Officer.
Vue said since they only come out twice a year, they rely on dog handlers to ask unfamiliar faces, that uncomfortable question.
That isn’t always the case though. In just an hour at the park with Williams, she caught three others without a license. She’s fed up with people not following the rules.
“Well, I’m trying to gather signatures of people who regularly come here that we can approach city council to enact a fine for no tag, or to enforce the license fee,” Williams said.
Williams said so far she already has a handful of signatures, and hopes to bring it to city council in the next few weeks.
To see a full list of rules and regulations for using the dog park, click here.