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May 23, 2007



In many parks, especially where dogs are permitted to be off-leash, as much as 75% of daily park users say they're there for the expressed purpose of exercising their dogs. Yet, people using parks for this purpose are routinely left out of discussions on how those parks are managed.

I ask, who should have more say in how a park is managed than the majority of those who actually use the park on a regular basis?

Now, not every park is populated primarily by people walking dogs. That's fair enough. Parks departments should do relevant research, then develop strategies to advance usage in the way the city would like.

I know all too well that the uninformed seem to think off-leash time is some kind of over-indulgent luxury. When, in reality, it is the cornerstone of proper socialization, which is in the best interests of everyone.

You were hinting at that, in terms of Calgary's success in reducing dog bites. Officials there understand that with ample access to off-leash areas for proper socialization, exercise, and training, dogs in Calgary are simply more likely to be better behaved than cities where dog owners don't have access to such places.

Well-socialized dogs don't bite unprovoked. Dogs that learn to control their own behaviour around strangers, off-leash (rather than being managed by some kind of physical restraint), and who learn to obey their owners' verbal commands while off-leash, tend to be much better behaved overall, as well.

As someone who takes her dog to an off-leash park pretty much every day of the year (and I dislike going to the same one two days in a row...it's boring), I find it kind of amusing that much of the rest of the parks are virtual ghost towns by comparison, while people scramble to grab the last available parking spots near the entrances to the off-leash areas.

Indeed, an off-leash area isn't just in the best interests of society, it WILL attract more people to the park. And, if properly managed, everyone can coexist amicably.

(At one popular dog park I used to frequent, many off-leash area users would spend time socializing their dogs, then leash them and stroll out into the rest of the park, to enjoy the other sights and sounds the park has to offer.)


Swope Park needs to start on this ASAP. The biggest, beautiful and most UNDER used park in KC. And yes, safety is the #1 concern with this park...


yes Michelle. If I remember correctly, Swope I think is the 2nd largest city park in the country (behind only Central Park, NY). It's completely underutilized -- with tons of open, unused Green Space. It's a complete no-brainer.

The harder part is what to do with so many of KC's smaller parks. One thing that Calgary has focused on is "a dog park for every neighborhood" -- this saves a lot in gas money, improves neighborhoods (people are walking to/from the park with their dogs, livening up the neighborhoods) and using the parks. Plus, with so many dog parks, they don't necessarily need to be the large size of the one at Penn Valley or the one at Swope (when they finally to it). They can be much smaller, maybe just 2 or 3 times the size of the ad hoc "dog park" at Holmes Park that is really just an enclosed roller-hockey rink.

But yes, they should start building the one in Swope immediately, as well as the one being done by WOOF.

KC Sponge

I don't even have a dog and I love dog parks. Yeah, it's good for the socialization of dogs, but the people get their fill as well. I've never been so openly greeted (well, except when I was pregnant) by people as I am when I am there. It almost makes me forget that I'm being slobbered on. almost.

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