Dog owners could be cited for leash laws at Auditorium Shores

Since construction ended, dogs and their owners have been enjoying the wide open spaces at Auditorium and Vic Mathias Shores.

“It feels great having your dog roam around. It looks like maybe eight acres out here and it allows the dogs to socially interact,” said Clint Osborn who was at Auditorium Shores with his Bernese Mountain Dog Sunday. 

Starting Monday dog owners who don't leash their pet in restricted areas of Auditorium Shores could face a hefty fine.

“It's good that they're keeping part of it open, but it's all down at the other end and the water's dirtier down there where they're going to be playing, compared to where they jump in and love to play in here,” said James Notte who took his Boxer to the shores Sunday. 

“It doesn't feel the same as it did before. It is really nice, but the feeling of being closer to the downtown area makes a huge difference,” said Greta Sepulveda who visited the area with her mini Labradoodle.

“It seems like continuously, over the last several years, as Austin has been expanding and growing it seems like restrictions have been growing and expanding with them,” said Osborn. 

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department is making a big splash among the Auditorium Shores crowd and by restricting the off-leash park to a 4.5 acre, partially fenced in area, they could be losing a lot of wagging tails.

“We probably won't come out here as often. We'll probably go to alternative areas,” Osborn said.  

“I don't really mind it that much. There's a whole area over there, fenced in I think, that works out pretty well. I mean, I don't know why they're doing it, but I don't really mind it that much I guess,” said Shaaheen Karaei who was walking his dog Sparky along the hike and bike trail. 

“I'd rather have all this, too. You can tell he loves running around playing over here with all the other dogs,” said Notte pointing to his Boxer Harley. 

Dog owners who do not leash their pets in restricted areas could be given a ticket including a fine up to $500.

“I think it's actually outrageous. That probably costs more than most people's dogs,” Osborn said. 

“I feel like that's super high and it definitely should be lowered to something as low as $50,” said Sepulveda. 

The Parks Department said the newly developed off-leash area will be safer because it will not interfere with those using the hike and bike trail, but many aren't convinced.

“The off-leash dog park, the fence can't even keep a dog in. So if your dog runs through that fence, what do you get a $500 fine for your dog running under the fence? The fence isn't even closed in,” said Osborn. 

“The big dogs will go around it but the small dogs will go right underneath it. There's no difference,” Sepulveda said. 

Long-time visitors to Auditorium Shores said they will miss their favorite off-leash area.

“It'll be sad for Harley, too,” said Notte. 

The new off-leash area will feature three access points to the lake, a water fountain and dog wash area, a walking trail and rain gardens. It is located at 800 W. Riverside Drive.

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