December 9, 2010 in City

Park Board, SpokAnimal to let loose the hounds

By The Spokesman-Review
Kathy Plonka photo

Cooper, a golden retriever owned by Kelly Nelson of Coeur d’Alene, visited Central Bark dog park in Coeur d’Alene on Wednesday. The Spokane Park Board is scheduled today to approve a contract with SpokAnimal to open and maintain Spokane’s first off-leash dog park.
(Full-size photo)

Map of this story's location

A Spokane park soon will host its first frolicking off-leash canine – legally.

The Spokane Park Board is scheduled today to approve a contract with SpokAnimal C.A.R.E. to open and maintain the city’s first off-leash dog park.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Gail Mackie, SpokAnimal’s executive director. “There isn’t a safe place for people to exercise their dog, run and have fun.”

The park could open as soon as this month, if weather conditions allow a chain-link fence to be erected around the 11-acre dog area within High Bridge Park, said Rebecca Mack, SpokAnimal’s development director.

When it opens, the land won’t look much different than it does now, except for the fence around it. Mackie said there will be separate play areas for small and large dogs.

“We wanted to have one that was centrally located,” Mackie said.

A donor gave $50,000 to cover the cost of the fence and other expenses associated with opening the park.

Park spokeswoman Nancy Goodspeed said the donor will be revealed sometime after the contract is finalized by the board. SpokAnimal hopes that restrooms, a dog water fountain and other features eventually can be added.

Spokane County opened its first dog park in 2006 at Gateway Regional Park off Interstate 90 near the state line. That park, now called the Patricia Simonet Laughing Dog Park, is maintained by the county’s animal control agency, Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service.

An earlier plan to open a dog park in High Bridge Park was abandoned because of concerns that it would negatively affect falcon hatchlings that drop from nests beneath bridges over Latah Creek. The new location is in a different part of High Bridge Park.

Leroy Eadie, Spokane’s park director, said if the new dog park is a success, the park system likely will look for other locations. Partnering with SpokAnimal has made the prospect of opening a dog park much easier, he said.

“What they bring is experience,” Eadie said. “They are in the dog business.”

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