CASPER, Wyo. — The city of Casper will no longer allow dogs to enter the fenced areas on athletic fields because of the problem of their waste.
Police Chief Chris Walsh ordered the change after complaints from the public and city Parks Department.
“The thing is, it’s a great place to go and run your dog, but people are just irresponsible and let them make a mess in there,” he said at a news conference Wednesday.
Walsh said groups that play on the baseball/softball fields have either cleaned up beforehand or played at their own risk. He said a few irresponsible owners have forced the city to restrict access to everyone.
Dog waste also poses a problem because it is a source of bacteria and parasites that can be carried into the North Platte River by runoff, according to a city press release. Infected waste pollutes the soil with worm and parasite eggs that can linger for years.
“At the end of the day, it’s just nasty,” Walsh said.
Casper has seven softball and baseball complexes, including the Field of Dreams, George Tani Memorial, North Casper, Washington Park, 13th Street, Mike Sedar and Crossroads. Signs prohibiting dogs are now posted on the fences.
Walsh said dogs will still be allowed outside of the playing fields in city parks. Morad Park is the only park where dogs are allowed off-leash, and the city has fought to keep that area clean as well.
In another effort to curtail dog waste, officials from Casper, Casper College, Mills, Evansville, Natrona County and the Wyoming Department of Transportation announced the start of their 2013 Scoop the Poop campaign, which is aimed at pet owners.
Those in violation of the police chief's order could face a standard misdemeanor fine, which has a maximum of $750, but Walsh said he hopes the rule will be self-enforcing.
The city is also in the process of creating a dog park near Lake MacKensie. It will need extra consideration to comply with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality since it is above a reclaimed landfill and near water, according to a city press release. A group of dog owners is currently working to design the park, which Walsh said will provide an alternative to athletic fields.
“There will be areas for people to run their dogs,” he said.