Park to free dogs of leashes

Former landfill site to allow free run of pet canines

`A need for a dog park'

Leashless facility envisions user fees to support operation

March 28, 2002|By Paul Longo | Paul Longo,SUN STAFF

Some Howard County dogs can look forward to running free this summer, without the restraint of a leash or the threat of a ticket for their owners.

The Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks has decided to open the county's first leash-free dog park after years of lobbying by dog owners.

The park will be on 3 acres of the former New Cut landfill site, north of Route 103 in Ellicott City. The gates may open as soon as July, once reclamation work on the land is complete, John Byrd, a parks and recreation official said in a telephone interview yesterday .

"Dogs love to run in open spaces, and it's very good for them to be around other dogs," said Anne Selnick, president of the Animal Advocates of Howard County. "It is a very positive thing for both the dogs and the owners, and it has worked well in other communities."

Indeed, the planned Howard County park reflects a national trend. Dog parks have grown increasingly popular in recent years across the United States. The Web site,, lists more than 600 dog parks nationally - more than three times the number in 1998.

In Maryland, Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties have opened leash-free dog parks in recent months.

Anne Arundel County officials have begun to speed up plans for three more in the area because of the success of their first dog park.

Howard County will ring its site with a 6-foot fence and initially maintain the park. The Department of Recreation and Parks is absorbing the start-up costs of the park into its budget. Byrd declined to say how much park preparations cost. He said users will pay an annual fee. The amount of the fee has not been decided.

Eventually, the park will be kept up and monitored by volunteers, Byrd said.

The Howard County Dog Owner's Group initiated the dog park project and is raising funds to fence in an area within the park for small, timid and elderly dogs.

There are no plans for additional leash-free dog parks in Howard. "We will consider other parks in the future based on the success of this one and the demands of residents," Byrd said.

Although the site of the park is on land where the New Cut landfill is located, John O'Hara of the Howard County Department of Environmental Services said "the land that it is on was never land-filled and is some distance away from the former landfill site.

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