Attention Page County dog owners

Letter

Dear Editor,

As many long-time dog owners in Page County are aware, we don’t have a single dog park in the county, even though owners like you have lobbied and petitioned the Luray Town Council (which controls recreation and parkland within the town) for over 20 years.  I don’t know why the council members don’t seem to like “man’s best friend,” but if you should ever go to a council meeting in Luray, like I have, you’ll be met with a lot of blank faces, and no good reasons for their continued lack of interest in providing a dog park for your canine or the other 1,300-plus licensed dogs in Page County.

The mayor would not meet with me to discuss dog parks, and asking the town manager to put dog parks on the council’s agenda goes nowhere. They won’t schedule a hearing, nor have they ever done any feasibility studies for a dog park. Call the Recreation Department for assistance, and they also will not meet with you in fear of getting in trouble.

Some might argue why should we need a dog park in a town with lots of parkland. The answer is “ask your dog.”  Nothing is more fun for a dog than playing and chasing other dogs in a safe fenced-in area WITHOUT being leashed. It’s just not the same as walking your dog on a leash. According to a 2018 survey by the National Recreation and Parks Association, 91 percent of Americans believe that dog parks provide benefits to the communities they serve. More than 55 percent of park and recreation departments already have at least one dog park.  

Dog parks are great places for dog owners to be physically active with their dogs, and they’re especially useful to senior citizens and disabled folk like me who no longer have the capability of taking long walks with Fido. Visitors to Page County who travel with their dogs who stay at “dog friendly” hotels appreciate having a nearby dog park, and I was told by the realtor who helped me buy my house that she often is asked by potential home buyers whether Page County has dog parks.  

What I find most interesting about dog parks in other communities I have visited or lived near is that these facilities often have become local community gathering spots. I often frequented a dog park in Somerset County, N.J., where I counted nearly 150 dog owners chatting, reading newspapers, and drinking coffee on a typical Sunday morning while their dogs ran about. Can anyone think of a place in Luray where 150 people can meet and chat? 

Local residents have an opportunity to offer their views and support for dog parks at the Luray Town Council’s planned Community Gathering on Tuesday, October 14th, at Ruffner Plaza, which is the Town Council’s effort to get more participation and ideas outside of the town council meetings. Apparently, they don’t seem to get enough information on what people in Page County want.  My dogs and I can think of one good project.

Don Feliciano ~ Luray, Va.

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