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Desoto Times Article

Hernando dog park closer to reality

 


What exactly is a dog park?

NRPA defines this type of facility as a contained public area where dog owners may allow their dogs to run off-leash.  Also known as a bark park or off-leash exercise area, dog parks provide a space for dogs to get off-leash exercise and socialize with other dogs and people. These fenced-in spaces are typically an acre in size but can be larger or smaller, depending on land availability and the surrounding context. Dog parks usually include a double-gate entry system, water spigot, trash cans and bags for picking up poop, but can vary widely in their style and design. What does not vary, however, is the increasing number of requests for these types of spaces, particularly in areas where residents do not have yards and off-leash areas in nearby parks.

A Growing Demand for Dog Parks

The demand for dog parks, particularly in Desoto area, is growing. Here in Desoto County, we estimate there are 37-47% of all householdsh have a dog,. This is not surprising when you consider the myriad benefits of owning a pet.
Reports by the National Institutes of Health and the Office of Disease Prevention and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) have found:
Owning a pet can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, provide a sense of care-giver responsibility, and even increase resistance to allergies.
Playing with a pet can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which helps regulate mood and reduces anxiety and depression.
As a public gathering place, a dog park often facilitates social interaction that might not otherwise occur. People naturally find it easier to talk to each other with dogs as the initial focus.
Dog parks are a shared public space where people can form community-bonds over the common interest in their pets which is similar to how playgrounds are a setting where new parents might make life-long friends.
Whether it is families, singles, young professionals, or empty-nesters living in urban and urbanizing areas, people with dogs are looking for a place to stretch their collective legs near home. In visiting dog parks in and around our county, we have heard first-hand stories about friendships and new romances sparked by a chance meeting at a dog park. One person even told us she didn't know what she would have done without the support of her dog park friends after her husband passed away.

 

The development of a successful dog park requires a great deal of planning and effort. But your involvement and dedication will hopefully lead to the ultimate reward -- the joy of creating and maintaining a special place where dogs and their families can run, romp and socialize.

The Ideal Dog Park Should Include:
 
  • One acre or more of land surrounded by a four-to six-foot high chain-link fence. Preferably, the fence should be equipped with a double-gated entry to keep dogs from escaping and to facilitate wheelchair access.
  • Cleaning supplies, including covered garbage cans,pooper scooper stations.  There should be sufficient dispensers to encourage owners to pick up their dog's waste.
  • Shade and water for both dogs and owners, along with benches and tables.
  • A safe, accessible location with adequate drainage and a grassy area that is mowed routinely.
  • Signs that specify park hours and rules.
  • Parking close to the site.

 

 

Members of a dog park committee should establish 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. Dispensers are provided for your convenience.
  • 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.
  • Puppies using the park must be at least four months old.
  • Owners should not leave their dogs unattended or allowed out of sight. If young children are permitted in the dog park, they too should be under constant supervision.
  • 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.

     

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