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City, schools remind residents: dogs not allowed on playfields

This sign, sitting on the track behind IMS, reminds residents that dogs are not allowed on city or school district property. - Megan Managan/Staff Photo
This sign, sitting on the track behind IMS, reminds residents that dogs are not allowed on city or school district property.
— image credit: Megan Managan/Staff Photo

Citing concerns regarding off-leash dogs and the unhealthy presence of dog feces on school property, along with the failure of dog owners to pick up after their animals, the City of Mercer Island and the Mercer Island School District sent a joint letter dated Jan. 25 to homeowners in the area around Islander Middle School and Lakeridge Elementary. The letter was to remind residents that they cannot use the South Mercer Playfields and the nearby athletic fields and track to exercise their dogs.

Tony Kuhn, maintenance and operations manager with the MISD, said this is a hot topic. He said the letter will also be distributed through the PTA.

City ordinance 7.04.110 states that it is unlawful for a domestic animal, with the exception of cats, to enter or remain upon any public school grounds or associated school facilities. The South Mercer Playfields are owned by the school district but are maintained by the city. Kuhn said since the city ordinance addresses animals, the district is not required to have a separate ordinance.

The playfields are right in the middle of Islander Middle School and Lakeridge Elementary School grounds. There is no fence to separate the city property from the school properties. IMS principal Mary Jo Budzius said the school’s track is right on the boundary of one of the playfields.

The park contains four softball diamonds, playground equipment, a soccer field, lacrosse field and more. At the center is a synthetic turf field. Any urine or feces that gets into that will be easily saturated, bring the risk of health problems, she said.

Budzius said more and more students are allergic to animals. The school no longer allows pets of teachers or students in the classrooms, either.

Fred Rundle, the principal at Lakeridge, said that his custodian will sometimes see animal feces on the Lakeridge playground, but he thinks his neighbors at Islander get the brunt of it. He said he does see people walking their dogs on school property early in the morning, but they clear out when school starts.

Budzius said the city put up a sign about a year ago, advising dog owners not to take their dog into the South Mercer Playfields, which has been largely ignored.

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