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Perrysburg asked to consider opening a dog park

A group of dog lovers is asking the city of Perrysburg for its help to open a dog park.

Perrysburg Advocates for Dogs is petitioning the city to fence off a portion of Three Meadows Park for a dog park. Dr. Jennifer Croce, a local veterinarian and the founder and president of the group, presented a proposal to the city council’s recreation committee last week.

“It would be a wonderful asset to the community,” said Dr. Croce. “A well-exercised pet is a healthier pet. There are so many benefits to both people and dogs.”

Perrysburg has very strong leash laws which make it difficult for people to exercise their dogs, she said. Both older and handicapped dog owners need a safe and secure place to let their dogs run.

The committee expressed reservations about giving a portion of a public park to a private group to fence off, said City Council President Joe Lawless, who heads the recreation committee.

“I am philosophically opposed to taking a park that the City of Perrysburg taxpayers paid for and paid to improve, and then putting a fence around it and telling them they can’t use it,” Mr. Lawless said. “There are many people that likely moved to that area because of the park, and many others in Perrysburg that enjoy the park. The shelter house is booked virtually every weekend in the warm months.”

But instead of simply rejecting the group’s proposal, the committee is referring it to the cemetery board for consideration because there is an unused three-acre parcel of land behind Fort Meigs Cemetery, 620 W. Indiana Ave., which might be an option, Mr. Lawless said.

If the cemetery board, which next meets Jan. 16 at 8 a.m., isn’t receptive, the recreation committee might reconsider a dog park as part of a new parks facilities plan the city will be considering in 2013, Mr. Lawless said.

“In my opinion an undeveloped piece of property, private or public, makes more sense,” he said. “I am all for a dog park, but only if it is privately operated and funded; which means it has to make financial sense. If the group comes up with the funding and if a suitable piece of property is available I would encourage the city to help facilitate a plan.”

The dog park advocates envision a two- or three-acre area contained by a 5- or 6-foot high chain link fence with a double-gated entry so that dogs already in the play area don’t escape when a new dog enters. There would be a separate area for big dogs and small dogs.

Users of the park would have to buy a membership for a small yearly fee in order to gain access to the code to a lock on the gate, Dr. Croce said. The fees would be used to maintain the park so there would be no cost to the city.

“We want to make sure the dogs using the park are not aggressive and are healthy,” Dr. Croce said. “In order to qualify for membership, the dog owners would need to show proof that their dogs are fully vaccinated and have been spayed or neutered.”

Dr. Croce would like the park to be accessible to dog owners outside of the city for a slightly higher fee. The group would also accept a donation of land of 2 acres or more in lieu of using city-owned land, she said.

“In less than two weeks, we got over 500 signatures from residents in Lucas and Wood counties who were interested in having a dog park,” she said. “There is definitely a need for this.”

Contact Tanya Irwin at: tirwin@theblade.com or 419-724-6066.

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