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Amherst taking another look at establishing dog park

Jennifer Blackman of the WAG Canine Recreational Centre is among those hoping Amherst builds and off-leash dog park within the town. She is urging people to show their support by attending a series of public meetings in August and September.
Jennifer Blackman of the WAG Canine Recreational Centre is among those hoping Amherst builds and off-leash dog park within the town. She is urging people to show their support by attending a series of public meetings in August and September.

AMHERST - Amherst is considering plans for a dog park with public meetings being held over the summer.  

The meetings will be held Aug. 8 from 12-2 p.m., Aug. 17 from 7-9 p.m. and Sept. 7 from 7-9 p.m. at the Community Credit Union Business Innovation Centre, according to Amherst recreation director Bill Schurman.
Bylaw 4.1 states that dogs in town cannot be off-leash unless the property they are on has permission from the owner.
Jennifer Blackman, owner of WAG Canine Recreational Centre, says Amherst needs to take on the initiative to construct a dog park for residents.
“It’s great for dogs to be able to run,” said Blackman. “And unless you’re a marathon runner, it’s very difficult to accomplish that. Right now there are no secure public spaces.”
Blackman recommends that people show their support by registering their dogs, going to the meetings and showing responsibility by cleaning up after their dogs.
“Unfortunately with dog parks it is very much an honour system,” said Blackman. “It’s a challenge to police that. (Owner responsibility) is probably one of the biggest troubles you see with dog parks.”
According to Blackman, some dog parks she has seen include a water source, spaces for large and smaller dogs, available waste bags and disposal bins. Some have rules barring young children and vaccination requirements.
A large sign with rules and a helpline for user concerns also promotes safe and effective use of a dog park.
Terri McCormick, president of the Lillian Allbon Animal Shelter, believes that dog parks are a great opportunity for owners to go out with their dogs during spare time.
“Many towns our size already have dog parks,” said McCormick. “It’s time that we had one, considering our population.”
McCormick says that dogs who socialize tend to have less behavioural issues.
“Anything that an owner can do, or that the town can do, to help somebody socialize their animal so that it doesn’t end up at our shelter, being surrendered because of certain issues, that’s a great thing,” said McCormick.
Since January 2014 a Facebook group titled “A Dog Park for Amherst NS” has earned about 275 members.
 

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