Pinedale Dog Owners Group petitions for a dog park
by Pinedale Dog Owners Group
November 4, 2016
The Pinedale Dog Owners Group hopes they’re barking up the right tree when they present their proposal for a dog park to the Town Council November 14 at 6 pm.
Their proposal includes what they hope is a mutually beneficial solution to a problem that has been dogging the town for most of the year: the vacant KOA lot. The Pinedale Dog Owners Group plans to suggest this as the location for the park since adjacent residents and DEQ say the dust blowing off of the lot is a continual problem.
The group, which is represented by five committee members, says that while many Pinedale residents own at least one dog, there are currently no approved areas where owners can allow their canine companions off-leash to exercise, socialize, and play. All trails and parks within the town require owners to comply with the town’s leash law.
"Research into dog parks has shown that there are numerous benefits to both the humans and canines that visit the parks," committee member Taylor Grysen said.
"They help reduce aggression and barking by providing dogs with proper socialization, they are a great place for people to meet others with common interests, and they can attract travelers who would otherwise just be passing through town."
Despite the amount of public land in the area, Grysen said that not all owners feel comfortable letting their dogs roam freely. Also, some pet owners have physical limitations which prevent them from accessing more rugged public land. "With a dog park, people with limited mobility will still be able to provide their dogs with the exercise they need without having to walk for miles each day," Grysen said.
Committee member Dawn Lawrence said that while she’s hoping the town will provide the lot, she would like to get the community involved in its construction and maintenance. "We want this to be a community project where we can get youth groups out to help us build some of the basic initial needs like picnic tables and shade structures," she said. "And hopefully local businesses will be interested in donating some supplies for those projects."
Lawrence said that by utilizing volunteer labor and hosting clean-up days, the group plans to alleviate some of the burden on the town.
While the main use of the park would be off-leash recreation, the group also plans for the park to be a center for community events like adoption clinics for Happy Endings Animal Rescue, group obedience training classes, and a space for 4-H dog agility training.
Robin Schamber, UW Extension Educator and Sublette County Extension County Coordinator, said that she has encountered problems at other town parks when leading 4-H dog agility trainings there. Despite ensuring that the children in the program complied with the leash law and disposed of their dogs’ waste, they were reported to animal control several times.
"From our experience, it is evident that there just exists a portion of our population that would prefer to have animal free parks," she said. "Designation of a specific area in our community as a pet-friendly park would certainly help appease all users."
Schamber noted that dog parks are highly utilized in many other communities throughout the state as they provide a valuable alternative for outdoor recreation for animal owners.
All major cities in Wyoming have at least one dog park. The idea is also picking up steam in smaller communities. The Rotary Club in Kemmerer completed the construction of a dog park at the end of 2015 and plan to continue adding more features to the park over time. They are also considering constructing more dog parks in town in the future.
The Pinedale Dog Owners Group noted that dog parks can start off being as simple as a fenced-in grassy lot with water and seating areas. As funds are raised through fundraisers, grants, or business sponsorship, more features can be added including water fountains, pergolas, and agility courses. Currently the group has started a fundraising effort on the web site Go Fund Me as a way to offset some of the initial costs.
Part of the effort to demonstrate community interest in the dog park includes a petition which the group will present to the Town Council. Paper copies of the petition are available to sign at Creature Comforts pet store and at the Pinedale Animal Clinic. The petition as well as more information is also available at Change.org.