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City of Spokane hopes to develop dog park

THURSDAY, MAY 15, 2008

Spokane might be a great place to raise a dog, but it’s in the dog house when it comes to canine amenities.

Unlike many other cities, it has no dog parks, although Spokane County has a dog facility at Gateway Park near the Idaho state line.

Efforts to establish a dog park in the city have faltered over the years, but now local parks officials are redirecting their efforts to establish one or two new dog parks in the city with the help of SpokAnimal CARE and the Spokane Parks Foundation.

Officials also are seeking help from interested dog owners to help develop and maintain the parks where dogs can run and play off-leash.

“Everybody thinks it’s a good idea to have a dog park, we just have to decide where,” said Nancy Goodspeed, spokeswoman for Spokane parks.

At least four locations are being considered. They include Qualchan Hills Park near U.S. Highway 195; Rimrock Park conservation area near Indian Canyon Golf Course; a wooded section adjacent to Albi Stadium; and property near power lines on North Indian Trail Road.

Gail Mackie, executive director at SpokAnimal, said her agency was asked to review the locations and make a recommendation on suitable sites.

“I think any or all of them would work for us,” she said, adding that each of the areas is already being used by dog owners to run their animals.

SpokAnimal wants to work with dog owners and the foundation to develop a master plan for dog facilities, and develop a list of e-mail addresses of people who want to be involved in building and maintaining the parks.

Mackie said she plans to hold community meetings to develop the dog park plan among the city, foundation, SpokAnimal and dog owners.

At the heart of many dog parks is a fenced area where dogs can be taken off their leash to run and play. Some of the areas have a smaller fenced enclosure that allows newcomer dogs to accustom themselves to the freedom and social nature of mixing and playing with other dogs.

The parks foundation has indicated that it could provide financial support for improvements such as fencing.

Taylor Bressler, planning and projects manager for the parks department, said that volunteer citizen support is needed for keeping a dog park clean and well maintained.

“If you do this right, the crowd will monitor itself,” Bressler said.

According to the Web site, “Dog parks are gaining in popularity and dogs certainly know why – there is nothing as much fun for a dog (and its human) as to run around off-leash, and play together in a nice park.”

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