Guelph’s first fenced-in off-leash dog park officially opened Thursday afternoon.
The enclosure in Peter Misersky Park, on the city's east side, was inaugurated by Remington, a three-year-old golden retriever seen running with joy, panting and even landing the first poop in the new park.
The 4,000-square-foot leash-free area is placed within the boundaries of the former ball diamond and cost the city roughly $100,000 to build.
The owner of the dog, Linda Harris, who lives within walking distance of the park says she is extremely excited about the new location because she was always unable to let her puppy go leash-free because she feared for his safety.
With the new park, she says there will be benefits even beyond safety.
“It’s good for him to socialize with other dogs,” said Harris.
“It's good for the winter too,” she said when owners will be able to allow dogs to run freely.
Project manager Stefan Ilic from the city's parks and recreation department says the use of this park will closely be documented to see how well it is used and taken care of while the city works moves towards opening the other two parks, one in Bristol Street Park this fall and the other in Lee Street Park early next year.
“We hear complaints a lot. We also hear complaints from dog owners that the city doesn't have a fenced area for them to go,” said Ilac.
“For example, people cycling on trails. They'll be walking on trails and get met by a dog with the owner not on site. Mostly off-leash issues."
He said even if there is no actual aggression, it can scare some people and create the issue.
The new leash-free area has two sections. The smaller one is for dogs 30 pounds and under, and while they can use the larger space for the larger dogs, the owner has the option to allow them to use the smaller area if they feel the dog needs more protection.
There is an entrance where owners bring their dog on a leash which leads to a confined area where dogs can then be unleashed before the owner opens the second gate to go inside.
There is also a dog waste station right outside the fenced area that allows the park used to dispose of dog waste immediately.
“The city just hopes there are no issues with users. So we're hoping that by adding these facilities we don't have conflicts with certain park users and users with dogs,” said Ilic.
General manager of parks and recreation Heather Flaherty said in the coming weeks, the city will add more finishing touches such as adding benches for dog owners within the fenced area.