Dog Park Proposed in Marion

Sue Maxwell, a dog lover and Marion resident, is proposing that the town consider a dog park in or near the village area.

“Dogs need to run and exercise, and there is no place for that to happen,” Maxwell said.

Although Washburn Park has an area for dogs to run, play and exercise, there is no fence. According to Maxwell, some dogs, like her two Basenjis, Pepper and Curry, cannot be let off the leash.

“They’d see a squirrel, chase it and not come back,” Maxwell said. For Maxwell, both Washburn Park and Silvershell Beach aren’t options for her dogs.

“We were approached by a group of people to look into the possibility of constructing a dog park,” said Jody Dickerson, a member of the Board of Selectmen and the town’s Recreation Department Chairman. “There is public and private funding available, but we are in the very early stages of discussion and exploration right now.”

According to Dickerson, several of the members of the Board of Selectmen plan to drive to Brewster and Provincetown to see their dog parks and speak with town officials and neighbors of the park.

“A lot of communities have these parks, and it makes sense to have a safe place for people to let their dogs run and exercise,” Dickerson said.

“Dogs are social animals,” Maxwell said. “They descended from wolves, who run in packs and have a social order. The more dogs socialize with each other, they become happier and better companions. Dogs get bored by themselves, away from their kind. When they socialize, they learn positive behaviors.”

Ideally, one acre of land would be needed. The land would be divided into two sections: one for dogs under 25 pounds, and one for larger dogs over 25 pounds.

“Little dogs pick on big dogs,” Maxwell said. Currently, Maxwell is working with the town in exploring the idea and land options that might be already available or a donation.

The private funding noted by Dickerson is the Stanton Foundation, which supports projects that foster human and dog companionship. Frank Stanton was one of the founding fathers of the CBS television network. He enjoyed the companionship of his dogs and created the foundation, which supports K-9 dog purchase and training for police departments, and more recently, the design and construction of dog parks. The foundation recently funded dog parks in Dorchester, Arlington and Boston.

If and when the land is acquired, a petition with signatures of town residents in support of the project would be needed to bring it to a vote at the annual Town Meeting in May 2014.

By Joan Hartnett-Barry

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