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Allow Dogs on the Commons?

Allow Dogs on the Commons?

ITHACA (WENY) --  Dave Wrisley doesn't go many places without his pup, Achilles.  Even while working at his family's jewelry shop on the Ithaca Commons, his dog isn't far from his side.

“He gets to ride in the car with me everyday, he gets to go home with me everyday. He’s by my side every second," says Wrisley.  “I’m blessed in the fact that I get to bring my dog in to work everyday.”

His customers don't have that same luxury, but Dave thinks they should.  Workers and residents are allowed to have dogs with a permit, but all other pedestrians are not.  Some are worried it's hurting business by keeping pet lovers at home or their hotel instead of out on the Commons.

"There's been studies to show they have a positive economic benefit to downtowns when people are allowed to bring their trusted companions with them, then they're more comfortable in their shopping environment," says Associate Director of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance group, Vicki Taylor.

Downtown Ithaca Alliance workers published an online survey to find out if businesses and customers think the no-dog policy is needed.  So far they've gotten 800 results, with about 80 percent in favor of the furry friends.

“They have some concerns about aggressive dog behavior and also about cleaning up after the dog. Overall, I think everybody’s excited about the prospect of at least doing a trial,” says Taylor.

Some business owners and pedestrians worry poor enforcement, aggressive dogs, and irresponsible owners could disrupt the walkway.

“Without some structure to the policy, I’m afraid that it would fail within a short time. I just believe that," says Mike Ellison, a pedestrian on the Commons who enjoys dogs but worries about enforcement.

If there's enough support for a change, Alliance will draft a new policy to take to council for consideration.  Whether it's a trial-run or permanent, business owners say they're willing to listen.

"I think it will be a benefit to the Commons and the businesses on the Commons if people can bring their dogs here," says Wrisley.

To take the survey, visit http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RSBDTCV or call the Downtown Ithaca Allicance at 607-277-8679.