For print only.

Dog owners, neighbors share views on Dog Park

Committee to be formed to address issues related to barking

By Cathy Tallyn

Staff writer

(Thursday, Oct. 28): Is another fallout of the pandemic a busier and noisier Dog Park because residents adopted so many dogs, decided to stay home and now need a place for Fido to roam off leash?

At least 100 residents spent about an hour Oct. 25 talking about how dogs, their persons and neighbors can co-exist.

In the end, it was the consensus that there should be ways to ensure harmony. A committee of residents will be formed to come up with ways to do just that.

Several residents who take their pets to the Dog Park said they appreciated the opportunity to present their side of the story and were glad to listen to others’ during the town hall meeting, held at the behest of the GRF Planning Committee.

Resident Services Director Jeff Matheson, the facilitator, repeatedly said, “There is no intent to take away the Dog Park.”

Twenty-two residents spoke. Some were emotional and taken aback at some of the comments. Some dog owners empathized with nearby neighbors. Some denied there were any problems. One woman brought her dog, Corduroy, although only service animals are allowed in GRF facilities.

Most affected are residents of nearby Devonshire and those who live on a hill just above the Dog Park, located in the far corner of the parking lot at Tice Creek Fitness Center.

“I have one of the dogs that barks a lot.  … When she goes there and sees the other dogs playing, she chases after them. I would want to be on the committee,” said Susan Dunn.

“We  are aware of the problem, and we value the Dog Park not only for our dogs but for us,” said another.

The focus was on how to deal with complaints, so comments weren’t about the positives of the Dog Park.

Attendees talked about loud and constant barking, untrained dogs, people who bring in more than a couple of pets, conflicts between large and small dogs, not-so-friendly dog owners, rumors and even the ambiance of the Dog Park.

Speakers suggested a sound wall, dog-obedience classes, vibrating dog collars activated when a canine does something it shouldn’t, doggie play groups and limits on how many dogs a person can bring in, among other things.

“It’s only been in the last 18 months that there’s been a problem,” a Wales Drive resident said. “The main time is between 3 and 4:30. I’m a dog owner, by the way. It’s only a few owners who don’t pay attention to their dogs.”

Said another: “People bought dogs during the pandemic. The number of dogs has grown. … There may be a different noise level than 18 months ago.”

“I’m very offended by the fact that some people think it’s OK to create a disturbance,” said a man who lives on Wales Drive.

Conditions at the park even bothered a dog owner who lives 1½ blocks away. “I don’t even go there. I go to Heather Farm or Hap Magee (dog parks).”

Some speakers were a bit hostile; they interrupted people, shouted out that what was said was untrue, and told nearby homeowners they should have known better than to buy a house near a dog park.

Most apparently didn’t know the houses were there first.

“My dog’s day is not complete until he’s gone to the Dog Park. … That’s what he wants to do, and it makes him happy,” a woman said.

“We can’t just walk away from here and think the problem is solved,” Matheson said at the end of the meeting.

He asked those who want to serve on an advisory committee to indicate that on the three full sign-in sheets. Several did.