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Eugene ban on dogs downtown expires: Did it work?

The dog ban in downtown Eugene went into effect Monday, April 10, 2017, and expired November 1. (SBG photo)

EUGENE, Ore. - Fido can go downtown again.

The City of Eugene's ban on dogs downtown started in April, part of the City Council's effort to make downtown feel safer and more welcoming.

"That there was just a feeling of congestion and sometimes danger on those sidewalks because people would set up with their dogs on street corners and just take over those street corners," Mayor Lucy Vinis explained.

Eugene Police said animal-related complaints dropped 24 percnet during the test, compared to last year.

But now the ban is over, effective Wednesday.

Vinis called it a test run, a way to see if it would work - and hear opinions from the public.

Some people liked it.

"It was a great test and we like it," said Jessica Thomason, whose food cart Wrap City sit in Kesey Square.

Thomason called the ban a relief from having too many dogs downtown - some of them out of control.

The big dog situation with the travelers unfortunately caused major problems," she said.

But critics of the ordinance considered it a work-around way to block homeless people and travelers from camping or being in downtown Eugene.

Matthew Hyland has been without a home for 3 months. He has plenty of friends who are homeless who own dogs.

"And a lot of people felt that was a law or an ordinance created to prevent homeless people from coming into to richer parts of downtown," Hyland said. "I don't know if that's the case."

Vinis said that wasn't the goal. She said the city and police made an effort to treat homeless people who own dogs with respect.

"We were very tuned in to that, so we really made a disciplined decision around making sure that people who needed it could access the services they need," she said.

But Vinis did say the main problem they were targeting was people posting up on sidewalks with their dogs.

"It's one thing if people are walking through with their dogs," the mayor said, "but what we're confronting downtown (...) is people taking over a street corner and being there all day with their dogs."

The City implemented a ban on dogs on 13th Avenue near the University of Oregon campus.

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