QUINCY -- Quincy Park District officials are concerned with what they feel is an increase in the number of pets -- dogs in particular -- being allowed to roam free in city parks.
Robin Schild, safety supervisor for the Park District, said the problem is twofold.
First, there is a safety issue. Second, there is the waste that is left behind by many of the animals that is not picked up by pet owners.
"It's been an ongoing issue over the years, but it has seemed to come to a higher level this year," Schild said.
The fear of animals is a concern, especially for many older adults and young children.
"It's a public safety issue, and if a dog is on public property, the owner will be held accountable," Schild said.
Pet owners can be ticketed $20 by the Park District and $150 by the Quincy Police Department.
Sgt. Adam Yates of the Police Department said he is aware of the problem, and extra patrols have been added to some city parks.
At first, a pet owner might simply be warned to keep his or her animals leashed or tethered. After that, a notice of violation and $150 fine could be administered. If the problem continues, the owner could be issued a notice of violation and be arrested.
"The Park District is concerned and has asked for our assistance," Yates said.
The most popular "dog areas," according to Schild, are the South and Waverly/Moorman sites, plus Klingner Trail.
As far as the clean-up part of the problem is concerned, Schild said there are pet waste stations in all of those areas where owners can deposit their animals' droppings.
"Not picking up the waste is a year-round problem but especially in cold weather," Schild said.
Sally Westerhoff, executive director of the Quincy Humane Society, 1701 N. 36th, said the facility has a dog park for pet owners to utilize that allows their animals to be off leash.
Westerhoff said the approximate 2-acre area is divided to accommodate both large and small dogs.
"We can probably handle 10 to 15 dogs at a time," Westerhoff said.
Westerhoff said the dog park is used daily, mostly on evenings and weekends.
More information is available by calling the Humane Society at 217-223-8786.