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Utah bill to allow dogs in cars in watershed areas clears House

Water flows in Big Cottonwood Canyon on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Debate in Utah’s House chambers focused briefly Friday on a smelly topic: dog poop.

The debate about whether dogs would still poop in watershed areas, even if they’re required to stay in the car, eventually gave way to the Utah House of Representatives voting 46-25 to approve a bill that would allow Utah drivers to bring their furry friends with them on drives up canyon areas that otherwise prohibit dogs.

HB245, sponsored by Rep. Cheryl Acton, R-West Jordan, would block cities from prohibiting drivers from bringing their dogs in their cars as they drive through watershed areas as long as they stay in the car with their dog at all times.

The aim, Acton argued, was to give Utahns freedom to bring their companions with them as long as they follow “commonsense” rules.

But Rep. Jeff Stenquist, R-Draper, spoke against the bill, arguing the it would still lead to dog poop contaminating watersheds.

“When Fido needs to go, the dog owner’s going to let that dog out,” Stenquist said, arguing if the choice is between pooping in the car or pooping outside, “he’s going to choose the watershed.”

But Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, supported the bill, arguing the debate isn’t about animals pooping in watershed areas, but rather it’s “about freedom and liberty and common sense.”

”This just makes sense,” Stratton says, arguing “law-abiding citizens” should be allowed to have their dogs in their cars.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.