Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bark Park to ban dogs in heat

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 2/28/2014

Not spaying or neutering a dog is the owner’s prerogative, Wynndee Lee said this week.

Owners planning to use the new Ottawa Bark Park will be encouraged to have their dogs spayed or neutered, but doing so is not required by the dog park’s rules, Lee, Ottawa planning and codes director, told city commissioners at their Monday study session. Female dogs in heat will be prohibited, however.

“In an environment like that, an animal — particularly if there’s a dog in heat — the other animals will respond,” Lee, a Bark Park booster, said. “If [male dogs] can’t get the dog pregnant, that will cause all kinds of repercussion with other dogs. We’re asking they be fixed, and if they’ve got a dog out there in heat, they’re going to be exited out because that’s going to create a problem.”

The rules are set for a vote at the March 3 Ottawa City Commission meeting, but commissioners said Monday they thought the details were well-written enough to let the city’s public works department start work on a sign that would display the rules.

“Fence posts are up and construction proceeds, but I couldn’t get an exact date today on how soon we’d be done,” Lee said. “We thought we ought to get those [signs] going because even if we haven’t dedicated [the park], as soon as there are gates and the fence is enclosed, people will start using it.”

Lee and other boosters have been drafting the rules for the past year, she said, looking at what other cities have used at their dog parks.

“This isn’t someone else’s list and we’ve just lifted their whole list [to use],” she said. “We looked at several others’ and pulled off everything they mentioned and reformatted it to a way it could be done that we were clear at the beginning that [dogs] have to have a rabies vaccine, you have to clean up after your pet, but then at the bottom you have some catch alls.”

Some of the rules include:

• Rabies vaccination tags must be displayed to use the park;

• A current city license also must be displayed unless a person is from outside the city, in which it’s suggested they purchase an optional license to help support Bark Park operations;

• Owners must clean up after their pets. Pet waste stations will be available;

• Owners must be in visual contact with their dogs at all times.

“Failure to comply with these rules and city ordinances may result in a citation punishable by a fine,” a passage accompanying the rules reads. “The rules are for your safety and the safety of your dogs. Offending animals may be excluded from the Bark Park.”

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