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City to consider limiting dogs in public cemeteries


I bet they didn't go over this in public administration school: Controlling dog poo in public cemeteries.

But if you hang around Lawrence City Hall long enough, you will find that almost any subject can come up at any time. At tonight's meeting, it will be dog poo in public cemeteries.

City commissioners are set to approve a new ordinance that will require any dogs in a public cemetery to be on a leash and to remain on the roads of the cemetery.

As a city memo on the subject explains, "the general purpose of the recommended ordinance is to prevent dogs from traveling across tombstones and/or burial sites (relieving themselves, etc.) which is not in keeping with the desire for decorum and respect in a cemetery setting."

The city's current ordinance requires that dogs be on leashes, but it does not confine dogs to the roads of the cemetery. The ordinance does require dog owners to pick up any waste that their animals may leave behind.

Whether that always happens, though, is debatable. The city received a complaint from an individual who went to pay his respects at his son's grave and found dog waste on it. Obviously upset, the individual brought the matter up to the city.

City officials have responded with this proposed ordinance, although there is some question about how effective it will be in preventing future dog waste problems.

A city advisory board reviewed the subject and didn't recommend the ordinance. (Yes, there is a city advisory board for almost anything. No joke, the city lists about 35 advisory boards/task forces on its Web site.)

In this case, it was the city's Parks and Recreation Advisory Board that heard the issue. I was at that July 9 meeting, and have notes from it. (Aren't you jealous about all the cool things I have?)

"I'm not a big fan of creating rules that you can't enforce, and you can't really legislate respect and courtesy," board member Jana Dawson said at the time.

But to be fair, the advisory board mainly was being asked to weigh in on whether the city ought to ban dogs entirely from the cemetery. It didn't discuss the middle-ground option of allowing dogs but confining them to the road. So, who knows, maybe its recommendation would have been different had it had that option.

City officials did some checking and found that most cities do allow dogs in their cemeteries, although Manhattan was the exception. (Based on this weekend, they apparently don't allow defense in the last few minutes of a football game either. Hey, I've got to get these football jokes in before KU's season starts.)

Parks and recreation officials said the new ordinance likely would impact quite a few people because the cemeteries are popular places for people to walk their dogs. They're shady, well-maintained and also quiet, officials told me.

The ordinance is likely to be enforced by cemetery workers who happen to notice people with dogs in the area, or by other patrons calling in a complaint. The ordinance gives the municipal court judge broad discretion in setting a fine for the offense, as long as it is between $10 and $500.

Commissioners will tackle the subject at their 6:35 p.m. meeting tonight at City Hall. The issue, however, may get very little discussion. It is on the commission's consent agenda, which means it is scheduled to be handled with a routine vote, unless someone pulls it to discuss. That is possible. I've discovered there are three things that can come out of nowhere at City Hall: Dog poo policy, advisory boards and discussion.


patkindle 4 years, 9 months ago

I am sorry but there will always be irresponsible slobs who do not pick up after their dog.

workinghard 4 years, 9 months ago

You are being nice, just calling them irresponsible slobs. I would have called someone letting their dog poop an a grave much worse.

JayCat_67 4 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, but you'd have been disappearded for that.

Scott Morgan 4 years, 9 months ago

The City of Lawrence should publish and post what one can do legally within the city limits. The list would be shorter.

Joe Hyde 4 years, 9 months ago

If you ask me (and nobody has), those phony plastic flower arrangements you see "in bloom" even after a 4-inch snowfall, that blow loose from foam holders then get chopped into hundreds of bright fragments by mowing machines, those are a bigger eyesore and a more expensive cleanup hassle than any Great Dane's mound of poo.

Cemeteries would become more popular places for people to visit, and learn about history from, if they were co-designated as Off-leash Dog Parks.

Matthew Herbert 4 years, 9 months ago

Well, looks like their national attention for the porch couch fiasco wore off so the city commission went for round two! Seriously, not every moment of everyone's life needs to be legislated.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 4 years, 9 months ago

I agree. I have been saying that for years, every time some over zealous government entity tries to legislate every aspect of our lives !!

Dan Rose 4 years, 9 months ago

The "porch fiasco" isn't technically over; they still have to make the final vote on the ordinance tonight. http://www.lawrenceks.org/assets/agendas/cc/2013/09-03-13/09-03-13_agenda_click_here.html


workinghard 4 years, 9 months ago

Someone should tell whoever plastered flyers all down 19th street from at least Iowa to Mass St. that it is illegal in Lawrence. They are badly done and you can't even read them. Talk about trashy looking.

elliottaw 4 years, 9 months ago

I wonder if there is a way to tell if it is dog poo or a present left by one of the many coyotes roaming around

gatekeeper 4 years, 9 months ago

Just ridiculous!

I don't think people should really be walking their dogs in the cemetary unless they're staying on the paths, but banning dogs on leashes is punishing the good dog owners.

Luckily, my father and sister are burried in a small cemetary in OP that doesn't care if you bring your dog. I last had my dog there a couple months ago. I go to make sure the graves are in good order and to do some work to the little garden we've created. It's always hard to visit and having my dog with me helps. He is unfortunately close to passing from a brain tumor, but when he is gone, I will take my mom and dad's dog when I visit.

RazzelT 4 years, 9 months ago

A person can only understand the need for this ordinance because they found feces on the grave of their loved one. I hope the people opposed to this will never have that happen to them.

Matthew Herbert 4 years, 9 months ago

Here you make the mistaken assumption that every bad thing that can happen to a person requires immediate government intervention and legislation to 'right the wrong'. Last night I stubbed my toe on the corner of my kitchen counter. That would have never happened had the government banned kitchen cabinets, or perhaps required me to wear proper footwear inside my house. I once had a dog hit and killed by a car. It was a terrible thing in my life that would have never happened if the government mandated fenced yards, or if dogs were banned all together from the city. See the point? Not every sad story needs to end with the government writing a law to 'save the day'.

bad_dog 4 years, 9 months ago

If you actually stubbed your toe on your kitchen "counter", perhaps we should consider regulations governing internal levitation clumsiness and/or the amount of alcohol consumed in the presence of kitchen cabinets.

It's obvious you can't/won't protect yourself...

Jstanobservation 4 years, 9 months ago

I think the occupants should have the final word on this.

RazzelT 4 years, 9 months ago

Perhaps you should have turned on a light and also put up a fence. Just sayin.

Matt Schwartz 4 years, 9 months ago

Was your dog on a leash when it was hit by the car? See the point?

Deb Engstrom 4 years, 9 months ago

My dad was a dog lover throughout his life time. I'm sure he would be glad to see that a dog is visiting him and leaving a calling card.

Grump 4 years, 9 months ago

By dad was a dog lover too. He'd be horrified to be buried in a cemetery that bans dogs. It wouldn't upset him a bit to know that a dog left something on his grave. It would probably amuse him.

HutchSaltHawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Really? Is that what we "discuss" in City Hall? Personally, I would like to have a dog visit me if I were "pushing daisies" (resting) in the cemetary. I am much more upset that a dog relieved itself in my front yard yesterday and the guardian did not bother to pick it up. I can think of several other "problems" that require attention and have a much higher priority than the off-chance that a dog poops on a headstone.

Pr0digy 4 years, 9 months ago

So illegal if the dog is not a service animal. Might have the city lawyer look up a few other ADA provisions because I'm sure litigation will cost much more than scooping a few turds.

Greg DiVilbiss 4 years, 9 months ago

If a cemetery is privately owned, I do not see how it is City Hall's business whether the owner of the property wants to allow dogs in the cemetery. If it is a cemetery run by the city then they can do what they want.

For me I would not take a dog to a cemetery to begin with.

It would seem to me that couches on porches, dogs in cemeteries, increasing fines for speeders, etc... the city could spend some time dealing with real problems. Like how do we increase the tax base and take the burden off of property owners? What can we do about teen drinking? How do we get the red light runners to stop? How can we encourage development of low income housing? What can we do to encourage companies to stay here and grow?

Jstanobservation 4 years, 9 months ago

Probably should be more concerned with the poo in city hall rather than a little fertilizer in a cemetery.

Jstanobservation 4 years, 9 months ago

Just decided the type of marker I want on my grave.Shaped like a fire hydrant,with a sign that says"Pets Welcome".

James Minor 4 years, 9 months ago

That would be all I need is to leave my family unexpectedly and wishing I could still be with them, then a dog comes by and drops a load on my face for me to stare at for the next three months!

Orwell 4 years, 9 months ago

So you're getting one of those glass-lidded coffins? I'm jealous.

bearded_gnome 4 years, 9 months ago

... discovered there are three things that can come out of nowhere at City Hall: Dog poo policy, advisory boards and discussion.

---Oh Chad! LOL! this is one of your classics.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 4 years, 9 months ago

I thought that, in most public areas, dogs are allowed to be unleashed if wearing and "electronic collar". I believe downtown is off limits but wasn't aware that public cemeteries were not a place where e-collars confer no "running free" privileges.

Water 4 years, 9 months ago

Birds poop in cemeteries....and rabbits. Deer poop in cemeteries. Squirrels, skunks and racoons poop in cemeteries. You know why? 'Cause they're afraid of the bear in the woods.

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