Jamestown receives long awaited dog parkJAMESTOWN — Every dog has its day, and it’s safe to say that’s today for Jamestown canines and their owners.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Dickinson Press
JAMESTOWN — Every dog has its day, and it’s safe to say that’s today for Jamestown canines and their owners.
After a decade of talk about a dog park, Pepper’s Dog Park will be a reality at 5:30 p.m. today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the park located along 13th Street Southwest.
The catalyst to move the project forward was a December 2010 donation of 17 acres of land to the Jamestown Parks and Recreation Foundation.
Reuben and Clarice Liechty’s donation required that 2 1/2 acres must be used as a dog park.
“They (Jamestown Parks and Recreation) needed a dog park and no one else would work with them to donate land as a dog park,” Clarice Liechty said. “We had the land available so we donated.”
Joyce Heinrich, a 10-year veteran of the Jamestown Parks and Recreation Commission, has spearheaded the project in recent years. But constituents have told her they’ve wanted one since she was first elected.
Sites were proposed near Ave Maria Village, the old Porter Brothers Site, the old BMX track, and across the street from the old Coke building. All four locations we’re rejected by citizens who lived close by.
Before the Liechtys donated the land, a Dale Carnegie Leadership Group, a business skills training group, polled people in that neighborhood to see if they were against a dog park, Heinrich said. Those people were not and the donation followed.
The Dale Carnegie group has played many roles in the development of information and education about dog parks, Heinrich said.
Part of the problem is that in the past people against dog parks in their neighborhoods weren’t educated enough on the topic, said Parks and Recreation Director Doug Hogan. One example is loud barking.
“It’s not a constant thing,” Hogan said. “Once dogs get in there and socialize, it’s a playful barking.”
Nancy Thoen has spent six years working with Parks and Recreation on the development of a dog park. She said dogs greet each other differently than by barking.
“Dogs’ first form of communication is body language and scent, so there’s very little barking in a dog park,” Thoen said.
Thoen has two large Weimaraners. Dogs that size require lots of space for exercise and sometimes the best option is rural, which Thoen said may not be safe.
“I’m glad to have a place to take my dogs that’s safe for them and safe for me,” she said.
Crystal Almond, owner of Waggin’ Tails Doggy Daycare & Hotel, has been working with Parks and Recreation and Thoen for four years the development of a dog park. Part of her expertise is animal behavior.
“People should be watchful of their dog right away when they enter the park,” Almond said. “Actually because that’s when you find the most troubles with dogs, especially dogs with high energy levels.”
Overall body posture, eyes and the ears show more about a dog’s aggression than hair standing on end.
Owners are legally responsible for their dogs and any injuries caused by them.
Almond helped research and develop some of the rules for Pepper’s Dog Park. Rules will be posted at the park, in brochures at the Parks and Recreation office, and around town. The list is also listed on Facebook under Pepper’s Dog Park.
Almond said peer pressure will most likely be the strongest factor in the enforcement of possibly one of the most troublesome rules: Always pick up after your dog.
“People that want to enjoy the area will be on top of each other to keep the area clean,” Almond said.
Even though it took a decade to come to fruition, Parks and Recreation Chairman Larry Knoblich said he is hopeful that Pepper’s Dog Park will be a favorite for pooches and owners alike.
“It’s really caught on in larger communities throughout the state,” Knoblich said. “I hope people here support it.”
Rodgers is a reporter for The Jamestown Sun, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.