Pet owners seek dog park

Recreation department to present proposal for Community Pond site

Westminster

November 13, 2003|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,SUN STAFF

Hoping to add to a growing list of dog parks across Maryland, several pet owners are asking Carroll County to set aside space for their four-legged friends to frolic.

The county Department of Recreation and Parks is to present to the county commissioners today a proposal to fence off an area where dogs can run unleashed within the 7-acre Westminster Community Pond on Route 140 at Route 97, just outside the city limits.

"It's a great opportunity for dogs and their handlers to learn social behavior with other dogs," said Bruce Falkenstine, owner of a 2 1/2 -year-old Labrador named Laser. "It also gives them a great opportunity to run and have a lot of fun."

Along with the Carroll Kennel Club, Falkenstine worked with the county Department of Recreation and Parks to put together a plan for a dog park.

"There are misconceptions about dog parks, like there are dogs just barking," said Richard Soisson, the department's director. "It's more of a socialization for dogs, playing together."

The 2.5-acre dog park would consist of a fenced-in area with two sections, one for small dogs and another for bigger dogs. Also planned are benches, trash containers and "potty" bags to be used in picking up after the dogs.

Rules would govern the safety, cleanup and supervision of pets at the dog park, which would encompass the open space parallel to Route 140 and away from the few houses near the pond, Falkenstine said.

In recent years, dog parks have become a more familiar sight throughout Maryland. Harford County is to open its first dog park Saturday. There are also dog parks in Anne Arundel, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties, and in the Canton area of Baltimore.

In Carroll County, the idea of a dog park is not new.

About four years ago, a proposal for a dog park at King Park in Westminster was turned down after nearby residents expressed concerns about loud barking and feces that might not be cleaned up, said Ron Schroers, administrator of the city's office of Recreation and Parks.

"It was really a neat idea," he said. "I wish the residents hadn't given it the thumbs down."

Laurie Walters, a Westminster resident who lobbied for the city dog park, said that besides providing open space for dogs, such areas also benefit pet owners.

"I feel there are a lot of people who work 9 to 5 jobs, and they come home and their contact with neighbors is not as great as it was in another generation," Walters said. "Looking at other dog parks, the big thing is how it brings the community together."

This time around, supporters are hopeful that the dog park idea will be successful.

"The location is more convenient," said Deborah Smart, a member of the Carroll Kennel Club who worked with Falkenstine.

The dog park would cost an estimated $25,000, most of it for fences, Soisson said. The money would come from the county's "self-help" program budget, which funds small recreation projects with the help of private donations.

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