Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

April 10, 2014

There are many benefits to a city dog park that merit consideration

— — After covering quite a few Bluefield City Board meetings and learning what to expect, I must say that Tuesday’s meeting was beyond anything I have seen before. Has everyone forgotten their manners? I understand many people were upset, but there is a right and wrong way to go about presenting comments to a board that works hard to make the city a better place for everyone.

Everyone wants a better Bluefield, but sometimes when something good gets proposed for the city we often fail to look at the positives it has for the community. I was very disappointed that not one person spoke about the positive impact a dog park would have not only on Bluefield but also other surrounding cities and communities.

Everyone who spoke was against a dog park at the old Fairview School location, yet the property is not being used at the moment for anything.

Would people not want to look out their window and see happy dogs running and playing?

The whole point of a park is for it to be in a residential area for people to utilize it, so a lot of people will not have to drive. They can walk to the park.

Any normal family wants to live in a nice, clean neighborhood where they can let their children ride bikes down the sidewalk after dinner, throw the Frisbee or ball for their dog and enjoy the company of others in the community who share a similar interest.

I heard comments ranging from — “we don’t want people parking everywhere on the street, we think it’s going to smell, we think it’s going to be noisy and people won’t respect the area because of irresponsibility.” But the only thing many heard is “dog park at old Fairview school location.” Not everyone has considered the positive benefits this could bring to Bluefield and the region as a whole.

Like everything else there will be kinks that need to be ironed out, there will be people who do not follow the rules. But what other project hasn’t had problems? We will learn how to address the issues that arise.

I do not live in or around the city. I live in Flat Top and I come into Bluefield everyday for work and I think to myself this place needs something happy.

Unless you are some grumpy person, I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t smile when they see a dog running and playing or a sweet little puppy becoming acquainted to new surroundings.

A dog is just like a child, and people want their children to go outside and enjoy the fresh air, grass and playground equipment. And who doesn’t love a child who doesn’t throw a fit when you put them to bed, yet they are worn out after playing and fall asleep almost immediately.

A dog is the same way. They need to interact with other dogs, they need to run and play. I personally live on 15 acres and my dog runs wherever she pleases on our property, yet maybe one Sunday afternoon I will want to let her play with other dogs.

I can come over to the dog park, let her interact and play with dogs her own size. Who knows maybe I run into someone with the same breed dog as mine and we could share ideas on a problem we are having or anything else.

When I was in college in Blacksburg, Va., I lived in an apartment and I enjoyed taking my dog over to the dog park on a sunny day and letting her play with other dogs. While I studied at the picnic table I never encountered one issue. Yes the dogs are going to bark. Yet children are going to run, laugh and scream while playing on a playground.

So what’s the difference? No responsible parent would deny their child of wanting to go play outside at the park, just like no responsible pet owner would keep their dog cooped up in a pen.

Only responsible people will want to use the dog park and keep it nice for their pets and others. Irresponsible pet owners don’t care for their pets in the first place, so I doubt they would take the time to let them play at the dog park.

So if people are worried about it causing problems, and no one can guarantee it won’t, but who is to say it will if responsible people are picking up after their dogs and making it a happy place for all dogs to play.

And in the end that could be a good thing for Bluefield.

— Contact Anne Elgin at aelgin@bdtonline.com. Follow her at @bdtelgin.

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