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Kay Robinson-Johnson, Published April 18 2010

‘Small’ dog proposal unworkable

I am writing on behalf of my golden retriever, Lucy, and myself to express our disappointment with Fargo Park District Commissioner Barb Johnson’s proposal to build a dog park for small dogs in the southwest corner of Island Park.

I have been walking my dogs in and around Island Park on a daily basis for nearly 20 years. Where is Johnson’s statement, “the reality is, if we don’t have one central spot, the dogs are everywhere” coming from? I also notice that there are dogs everywhere in our park, but the vast majority of them are leashed and led by considerate owners. Providing a dog park isn’t going to change that; we like to walk our dogs on the trails throughout the park.

I see the true purpose of a dog park in the provision of appropriate space for dog owners to exercise and socialize their canine friends safely.

One thing I couldn’t tell you about my observations is whether I see more small dogs than large ones or vice-versa. To build a dog park in this location – and it is a good location – for small dogs only, is unfair and unreasonable.

What are we supposed to do with our retrievers, Labs, shepherds and all larger dogs? Parks Director Roger Gress suggests we wait until the Parks Department has enough baseball and softball diamonds in Fargo. This would free up the land south of Island Park that currently holds two softball diamonds and could possibly be used for big dogs. How far into the future will that be?

I suggested to my dog that we could walk down to Island Park and at least watch from outside the fence as small dogs enjoy each other’s company in their very own dog park. Lucy was not keen on the idea at all. The proposal is unfair because dog park space for only half of our canine friends would be provided.

Furthermore, I would like to know the definition of a “smaller dog.” Is it a dog that weighs 35 pounds or less and stands no taller than 18 inches high? Will there be a scale and a yardstick at the entrance of the dog park to make sure only small dogs get in? What of the pooch that weighs in slightly over the restrictions? This proposal is unreasonable; it cannot be enforced.

If the location Johnson proposes for a city dog park cannot accommodate small and large dogs, and all dogs in between, then find another location.