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Establishing a Dog Park

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Establishing a Dog Park

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  1. Establishing a Dog Park Contact: Christine Weber This document is 10 slides

  2. What Is a Dog Park and How Does it Benefit the Community? • With cities becoming more and more crowded and leash laws becoming more restrictive, many concerned dog owners are looking to the creation of dog parks as a solution to their need for a place to spend quality time with their pets. But just what is a "dog park" and what benefits can one bring to your city or town? • A dog park is a public park, typically fenced, where people and their dogs can play together. As the name implies, these places offer dogs off-leash play areas where their owners can enjoy a park-like setting and the chance to socialize with other canines and their owners. Dog parks, which are sometimes managed by park users in conjunction with city or town officials, are being established all over the country and offer a wealth of benefits to dogs, dog owners and the community as a whole.

  3. More than just "room to roam," the creation of a dog park.... • Allows dogs to exercise and socialize safely. • Puppies and adult dogs need room to run, and enclosed play areas permit them to do so while preventing them from endangering themselves and others (for example, by running into the path of an oncoming vehicle). In addition, dogs who are accustomed to playing with animals and people other than their owners are more likely to be well-socialized and react well toward strangers. • Promotes responsible dog ownership. • Dog parks prevent off-leash animals from infringing on the rights of other community residents and park users such as joggers, small children, and those who may be fearful of dogs. Parks also make it easier for a city to enforce its leash laws, as resident dog owners with park access have no reason to allow their canine companions off-leash when outside of the park. Continued 

  4. More than just "room to roam," the creation of a dog park.... • Provides an outlet for dog owners to socialize. • Dog parks are a great place for owners to meet other people with common interests. The love people share for their dogs reaches beyond economic and social barriers and helps to foster a sense of community. Park users also benefit from the opportunity to ask questions of other owners and find solutions to problems they might be having with their pet. • Make for a better community by promoting public health and safety. • Well-exercised dogs are better neighbors who are less likely to create a nuisance, bark excessively and destroy property. • Their presence in the park, along with their owners, also helps to deter crime. Many urban parks have reported a significant reduction in crime and vagrancy where dog parks have been established.

  5. Dog Park Design: • Pooch Pass Program • All dog park users must apply for an annual Pooch Pass ($35.00/year.) • The Pooch Pass allows for access to the electronic gate system. • The application requires a county animal license and a health certificate from the veterinarian showing proof of rabies and DHLPP. • Mecklenburg County Dog Parks in larger facilities incorporate our following recommendations for their design • Parks should be between 2-4 acres of land surrounded by a four-to six-foot high chain-link fence. The fence should be equipped with a double-gated entry to keep dogs from escaping and should facilitate wheelchair access. • A safe and maintainable ground cover, such as decomposed granite or pea gravel. • Shade and water for both dogs and owners, along with benches and tables. • A safe, accessible location with adequate drainage • Cleaning supplies, including covered garbage cans, waste bags and pooper scooper stations. • Pooch Passes that require canines be vaccinated and licensed. • Signs that specify park hours and rules.

  6. Rules & Regulations • FiDOCarolina and Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation Department have established and enforce reasonable health and safety rules for the park, such as the following: • Owners are legally responsible for their dogs and any injuries caused by them. • Puppies and dogs must be properly licensed, inoculated and healthy. • Animals should wear a collar and ID tags at all times. • Owners must clean up after their dogs. • Dogs showing aggression towards people or other animals will be removed from the park. Animals who exhibit a history of aggressive behavior will not be permitted (Pooch Passes revoked.) • Puppies using the park must be at least four months old. • Owners should not leave their dogs unattended or allow them out of sight. • Young children under the age of 12 are not permitted in the dog park. • Dogs in heat will not be allowed inside the park. • Owners must carry a leash at all times. Dogs should be leashed before entering and prior to leaving the park. • Violators will be subject to removal from the park and suspension of park privileges.

  7. Myths & Misconceptions • Myth #1: Hordes of loose dogs will over-run the city. • Untrue. Off-leash areas generally have fencing and natural barriers. Signage at the entryway alerts the public that this area is for off-leash enjoyment and leash laws are in effect everywhere else in the city. • Myth #2: My child or dog will be viciously attacked. • Untrue. While there have been occasional injuries to smaller dogs as a result of off-leash play, these injuries are not a result of vicious dog attacks. Many dog parks now provide separate areas within the dog park for smaller dogs. As one attorney commented, "There is less liability in an off-leash area than in most other park activities." Off-leash areas are neutral territories for visiting dogs, so it is highly unlikely that they will try to protect their turf. Dogs prefer to work things out in their groups peacefully, much as humans do. Plus, animal behaviorists have known for years that dogs are less likely to be aggressive with each other when off-leash than when they are on leash!

  8. Myths & Misconceptions • Myth #3: The noise and stench will be overwhelming. • Untrue. Well-exercised and well-socialized dogs are much quieter in public areas and at home. So the more running and playing a dog does, the less likely that s/he will play-bark or engage in nuisance barking. The cities we consulted reported that nuisance barking was not a problem in their off-leash areas. • A strict "pick up" policy will be in effect at all locations and it is everyone's responsibility to keep the areas clean. Extra plastic bags and trashcans will be provided at the site and the trash will be emptied regularly. The experience of other cities shows that once there are legal off-leash areas, there is stronger peer pressure to pick up dog droppings and trash and these areas tend to be far cleaner than other public areas of the city.

  9. Myths & Misconceptions • Myth #4: It's too expensive. • Untrue. Aside from initial start-up costs to pay for fencing, signage, and amenities such as trashcans, it costs very little to maintain the areas. Unlike softball fields or hockey rinks, off-leash areas require very little maintenance beyond trash removal, occasional mowing or watering. Making off-leash areas a benefit of dog registration would lead to more dog registrations and increased revenue for the city. • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Control Bureau has reported that within the first month of opening Ray’s Fetching Meadows, they had more applications for dog licenses than in the previous 10 months. • The reality. • Off-leash areas are a great neighborhood gathering places. Experience shows that off-leash areas build strong neighborhoods and communities. Crime has decreased in many cities near the off-leash areas and people who normally would not talk to each other will start conversations when a dog is there to break the ice. So neighbors get to know each other, friendships are made and romances can even bloom!

  10. Mecklenburg County Dog Parks • EAST: Ray’s Fetching Meadows at McAlpine Park • 2 fenced-in acres • Opened October 19, 2002 • NORTHEAST: Reedy Creek Dog Park • 4 fenced-in acres • Opened Spring 2003 • LAKE NORMAN • 4+ fenced-in acres • Anticipated opening Dec 2004 • FUTURE • An Off Leash Dog Area Advisory Council has been appointed to advise Park & Recreation on the location of future off leash area dog parks.