What's up with that? Ross Complex security on the lookout for loose dogs

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I just got served a criminal trespass warning for being on the Bonneville Power Administration’s part of the Ellen Davis trail … because I had my dogs unleashed. I’ve been doing this for 12 years with no problem. Why is BPA harassing one person for being off-leash? Lots of people do it. This is way out of line. This is an abuse of power. I’ve hired an attorney.

— Jerry

Good luck with the attorney, Jerry. A couple layers of dog regulations govern the site you’re talking about, which is both a public park and a federal facility, so it’s not entirely shocking to discover somebody actually taking those rules seriously.

The rule at all Clark County and city of Vancouver parks is, you guessed it, no unleashed animals allowed. That’s usually pretty visibly posted.

The lack of open space for dogs is exactly why the city-county parks department worked with DOGPAW, a volunteer-driven nonprofit group, to create several off-leash dog parks in the area. There are five of them now, at Hockinson Meadows Community Park, Pacific Community Park, Addy Street in Washougal, Northeast 149th Street in Brush Prairie — and this one at the Ross Complex. (Take a look at http://www.clarkdogpaw.org to learn more.)

Ross’ nine doggy acres were donated for this use by the BPA, and DOGPAW volunteers built fences, installed waste-disposal stations, drafted rules for canines and humans, and are responsible for maintaining the park.

Given all that, DOGPAW President Kathleen Hansen doesn’t have much sympathy with off-leash dogs outside the off-leash area.

“If you’re doing something wrong … it doesn’t matter if you’ve been doing it for 100 years,” she said. “The only places you’re allowed to go off-leash are the recognized off-leash areas.”

Doug Johnson, a spokesman for BPA, said Ross security personnel are stepping up their efforts to make sure people know leash laws are in effect on the trail. There’s a technical training center and a high-voltage substation on the grounds, he said, so dogs on the loose are a particularly bad idea.

“We do have poles and equipment that linemen train on. And we do substation maintenance right here, adjacent to the trail,” he said. “We had an instance where a dog got through the fence and wound up inside the training center. So yes, we are reminding people.”