DogFriendly.com has said that Ashland Oregon is “one of the least dog-friendly towns on the West Coast” and “Best to just keep on driving on I-5″. We don’t do this often. On the west coast, we criticized Santa Cruz’s ban on dogs on downtown sidewalks. Due to bad publicity hurting tourism and downtown businesses with pet owners Santa Cruz repealed this ordinance and is now a dog-friendly town again. In regards to Ashland, Oregon, our comments came about because of a number of complaints from readers and a visit to the town ourselves. We liked the town, it has a nice downtown and riverwalk. What we didn’t like is its dog policy. Nationally, more than half of households have dogs or cats and these taxpayers deserve their share of the parks and rec budgets in all towns. Dogs were not allowed in any park. Worse, people were being ticketed aggressively for walking on the sidewalks next to the parks. People from out of town would not expect this policy. They received citations.
Thankfully, Ashland has begun to improve its pet policies. You can see an article, dated May 6, by Vickie Aldous of the Ashland Daily Tidings Newspaper. In 2011, Ashland changed its policy to allow dogs in most parks PROVIDED they stay leashed (ok, this is common) and within six feet of a sidewalk or paved walkway (this is not common). This does help in limiting the ability to receive questionable citations that run into the hundreds of dollars. But it is not dog-friendly.
Based on the article in the Ashland Daily Tidings the town is giving out gift certificates for those pet owners that clean up after their pets. This is a true problem in many areas. Dog owners must clean up after pets in city parks and citations for failing to do so are appropriate. But if dogs are not allowed more than six feet from the pavement, then they are not getting use of the park. It also appears that the town is trying to improve its image with pet people. This is good.
We would like to see Ashland become more dog-friendly and be a nice stopover for the many dog owners traveling Interstate 5 by car between Portland Oregon (one of the most dog-friendly cities in America) and California (also very dog-friendly in general). What is dog-friendly? Regular use of some of the parks with appropriate signage. Maybe a less aggressive stance with out of towners such as giving a warning instead of citations. Some patio dining restaurants that are pet-friendly would help as well. Have dog-friendly shops and shopping. And allow dogs on the open sidewalks without exceptions. Maybe add a second off-leash area. Then we will be happy to call Ashland dog-friendly.