It’s Spring and everyone, it seems, wants a dog park.
Clinton, Ashcroft, Cache Creek… The question has come up in our towns. Clinton, apparently, is going forward with theirs; Ashcroft is putting together a committee to look into it; in Cache Creek it hasn’t been put to Council yet.
A quick scan of the world wide web shows that a lot of major cities now have dog parks or off-leash areas – not one, but several.
It’s not a bad idea for the dogs. Like people, most animals – especially domesticated ones – are social. I don’t have two (or more) cats just because I love them – I recognize their need to be with others of their own species. My cats don’t have the opportunity to mingle with other cats because they don’t leave the house.
Dogs are larger and need more room than a house can provide. Yards are necessary, but they don’t provide the “meet and greet” opportunities that a dog park might, unless it’s from a dog whose owner treats the entire town like an off-leash area. And I know several of those.
At a recent Town Hall meeting in Cache Creek, the idea was proposed by a resident recently moved to town. That sparked a lively debate about loose dogs and the cleanup required after them. It was suggested that a dog park would take care of that problem, although I suspect that the dog-owners who let their animals run freely wouldn’t be interested in taking them to a park. And who is going to clean up the park, or is that considered a hazard of having a dog park?
Simply fencing off a section of land and calling it a dog park shouldn’t be enough. Dogs – and their owners – need some basic obedience training to avoid serious fights, up to date health cards to avoid the spread of infectious diseases, and of course they need to be neutered to avoid unwanted pregnancies and aggression.
It’s going to take a while to sort the rules and limits, but it can be worth it for local dogs and their families, as well as visitors who want to let their dogs run free.
We’ll see how Clinton works this out.
Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal