Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dogs need a best friend too

On May 9, the Dog Friendly Bloomington (DFB) group sent a letter to Councilman Andy Ruff concerning the long-standing proposal to establish an off-leash dog park accessible to dog walkers within eight Bloomington core neighborhoods. DFB was founded by BPNA neighbors Marian M. Conaty and Paul Styles two and a half years ago.

The preferred site for the dog park is on the grounds of the Carlisle Brake Plant, located diagonally across from the southeast corner of Bryan Park. Doug de Vallance, President of Operations at Carlisle, has given his approval for this use of land behind the factory. DFB envisions an enclosed, locked dog run which owners of registered dogs can access without charge.

DFB considers this a win-win solution for all parties. Having a safe, clean place for dogs to run and socialize obviously benefits the animals and their owners. It would also reduce the burden on Bryan Park, which is heavily used now and will be more so as population density increases in the area. (South Dunn St. provides one example.)

“We believe this is a wonderful opportunity to bridge two seemingly incompatible land uses for the benefit of the community,” the DFB letter to Councilman Ruff states. “Essentially, the proposed dog park would create a community-serving buffer between industrial activity and residential use. This partnership between city, industry and neighborhood would take what some view as a negative, a sprawling factory within a core neighborhood, and turn it into a positive for the entire city.”

Independently of the DFB group, an Elm Heights resident, Ron Fischman, wrote Mick Renneisen, the head of Parks and Recreation, urging the city to consider this proposal –
and other possible uses. “To my mind, the most important aspect of the proposal is the opportunity to increase the area of a core city park. The clear trend in Bloomington and the rest of the Midwest is for old factories like Carlisle to minimize new investment in their urban manufacturing facilities and eventually sell the land for its development value,” Fischman states.

Dilemma for responsible dog owners

Nature designed dogs as pack animals and hunters. They need to run and socialize with each other for their mental and physical health. DFB cites research showing that 82% of dogs returned to the Animal Shelter are returned because they show signs of aggression. The major cause for this is lack of appropriate exercise and socialization.

Currently, local dog owners have two bad options for caring for their dogs’ needs. Some owners wait until the park empties out at the end of the day and let their dogs off the leash. This is illegal. Violators can be fined; upon a second offense, the dog can be impounded for neutering. DFB knows that even well-trained dogs running free can make other park users feel uncomfortable, and would prefer a better alternative.

The available alternative is to patronize the city’s only existing dog park at Karst Farm. The DFB objects that it is “environmentally irresponsible” to drive to Karst Farms (10 miles round-trip) when a nearby location is readily available. “In the 750 (+) households of the Bryan Park neighborhood alone, national averages say that approximately 285 of our households have at least 1 dog. Just 1 trip per week to Karst Farms equals over 150,000 miles of driving per year and creates 52 tons of CO2 gas emissions,” the DFB letter states.

Bryan Park, Elm Heights, McDoel Gardens, Eastside, SoMax, Arden Place, Walnut Creek and Pinestone are all neighborhoods whose resident dog owners could walk to the proposed Carlisle site. Its location adjacent to Bryan Park would simplify servicing this site as well.

DFB members wish to be humane responsible dog owners and environmentally good stewards,” they assured Councilman Ruff. To further this conversation with others in the community, DFB has also set up a Google group site at “Dog Friendly Bloomington”,

Source: BPNA Newsletter, June 2008

1 comment:

Ruth said...

I sincerely hope you get your dog park. We don't have one here, and I know how hard it is for apartment dwelling dogs in our city to get proper exercise and socialization. I didn't really realize just how bad it was until after someone gave me a copy of Dog Park Diary, a really funny dog book about a beagle's adventures with his friends at the dog park. Just seeing the photos there make me realize how important it is for dogs to have friends and play time too.