Making Dubuque a more pet-friendly city has been a City Council priority in recent years, though just what that could mean still is being determined. For citizens — both pet lovers and those with concerns — now is the time to weigh in.

One scenario to make Dubuque more attractive to pet owners would be amending city ordinance to allow leashed dogs at parks. After years of discussion, City Council members seem nearer to moving that direction. Local economic development officials note that a pet-friendly environment is a top priority for young people considering a move to the Dubuque area. In addition to outdoor spaces, they seek housing options that are welcoming to animals.

While there are still opponents to such changes, it’s important to look at the issue as more than just a pet issue. It’s a people issue. It’s a quality-of-life issue. It’s a workforce issue.

At any rate, city officials want to hear all opinions at a public meeting to gather input on the subject from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, in the City Council chambers at the Historic Federal Building. Another way to offer an opinion is through a survey at https://bit.ly/35xtACK.

As the city moves closer to integrating dogs into more public settings, dog owners and others would do well to consider the words of an expert on how to make that transition go smoothly.

Local dog trainer Robin McFarlane, of That’s My Dog, has launched an effort to raise awareness about issues that could make a pet-friendly community even friendlier.

McFarlane launched AwarePetOwner.com, a website with common-sense advice for dog lovers and others on peaceful co-existence. And it’s not just about picking up after pets (though that goes without saying).

Some key points McFarlane makes include:

  • Just because a dog owner is walking her dog in a park isn’t an invitation for strangers to approach the animal. That can create a bad situation for a frightened dog or a friendly child.
  • The reverse is also true: Not everyone is an animal lover or comfortable being approached by an excited dog. If your pet is highly social and friendly, don’t allow them to impose on other people or pets without express permission.
  • Keep your pet within a few feet of you. When in populated areas or near heavy traffic, use a standard leash or keep retractable leashes locked to no more than a 6-foot length.

City officials have conscientiously weighed opinions on this issue, and it might be that the time to further expand the law has come. Citizens should take this opportunity to provide feedback through the survey or in person at the meeting.

Check out AwarePetOwner.com for more information on how pet owners and others can get along well in a pet-friendly community.

Editorials reflect the consensus of the Telegraph Herald Editorial Board.