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County will consider parks where dogs can roam free

Fenced-in sites might be created in Holiday, Land O'Lakes and Dade City for pooches to run free.

By BRIDGET HALL GRUMET
Published March 9, 2004

If you've been looking for a place to let Fido roam free, you might be in luck.

The County Commission will consider a proposal Wednesday to create three fenced-in, leash-free dog parks: one each in Holiday, Land O'Lakes and Dade City.

Parks officials think it's an idea whose time has come. After all, the county has picnic grounds, fishing piers, hiking trails and ball fields galore but no place where man's best friend can shed a leash and romp around.

"There is a local demand," said Rick Buckman, the county's parks division manager. "We've had a lot of calls from folks who would like to see us try something like that."

Dogs are allowed at some county parks, as long as their owners keep them on a 6-foot leash and clean up after them.

But the idea of dedicated dog parks is catching on in Florida and around the country, Buckman said. There the dogs have room to run around, catch a Frisbee or make new four-legged friends.

The proposed dog park sites in Pasco County are:

Beacon Square Park, a 4-acre site on Moog Road about a mile west of U.S. 19 in Holiday. Because the park sits in the middle of a residential area, the county would hold a public hearing to address neighbors' concerns.

Land O'Lakes Recreation Complex on Collier Parkway. The dog park plans would be included in the 40-acre expansion of the park, with the exact site to be discussed during public hearings on that park.

John S. Burks Memorial Park on State Road 52 near Dade City. A sloped, partly wooded area that is going unused would be fenced in for the dogs. The county does not plan to hold a public hearing on this site, although officials say they will address any concerns raised by neighbors.

Although the dogs could go unleashed in the parks, Buckman said, there would still be rules. Dogs must have current vaccinations and wear their tags. Dogs that are aggressive, sick or in heat would be barred.

And, yes, owners would still have to watch their pets and clean up after them.

If commissioners support the dog park plan Wednesday, it could take several months to hold the public hearings and raise the fences at the Holiday and Dade City sites, Buckman said. The dog park in Land O'Lakes could take closer to a year, he said, because it would be part of the larger expansion project there.

- Bridget Hall Grumet covers Pasco County government. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6244, or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6244. Her e-mail address is hall@sptimes.com

[Last modified March 9, 2004, 01:35:32]


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