AP NEWS

Dog park idea might have legs

March 11, 2019

Nearly every day — and sometimes more than once a day — Holli Peterson walks Emme, her 2-year-old Boykin Springer Spaniel, to Rogers Park.

She often sees several other dogs there with their owners. The fastest any of the animals can run depends on the owner’s own speed, thanks to Beaumont laws that mandate a dog must remain on a leash in open spaces.

Peterson, 34, is out to give dogs more places to really stretch their legs.

“I’ve just felt like there needed to be more dog parks to make Beaumont a pet-friendly community,” she said. “I’ve been to other areas and I think dog parks are a huge part of what’s missing here.”

Peterson started a change.org petition for a second dog park in Beaumont on Feb. 25. As of Friday morning, 949 people had signed on.

“I have been so pleasantly surprised,” she said. “I have had so many people in the community reach out to say and say it’s something they’d like to support.”

Beaumont has one dog park, within Ida Reed Park, at 2348 Louisiana St.

Peterson said more dog parks should be constructed where the population is moving. She’s suggesting a place behind the tennis courts at Rogers Park, 1455 Dowlen Road.

That would also provide an amenity in area with a large number of apartment complexes, which don’t often have large yards where dogs can frolic and play, Peterson said.

“I know there are some people forced to put their dogs in shelters because they’re too destructive and hyper,” she said, noting the first-hand experience she’s gathered about that situation since adopting Emme, who’s more high-energy than her last dog.

“Having a place for those dogs to exercise would help the overall vision of Beaumont, which is to have a no-kill shelter and see more pets adopted,” she continued.

It’s also picking up speed with Beaumont City Council.

Peterson said council members Mike Getz, Virginia Jordan, W.L. Pate and Robin Mouton, along with Mayor Becky Ames have all expressed varying levels of support for the proposal.

Getz first saw Peterson’s petition on the Nextdoor website, a neighborhood-based social media platform.

“I talked to her about it a bit more to understand what her vision was,” he said. “I thought it was a good idea and obviously the people think so, too.”

Getz is also exploring the possibility that donations could fund the project, which he said would make it easier to come to fruition.

For the idea to move forward, a City Council member would have to make a motion to have the idea put into the city’s capital plan, which would then need to be passed by the majority of the council. Then, the city would have to determine how to fund it, Getz said.

Councilwoman Virginia Jordan was another early supporter. She said she’d be open to dog parks at other city parks as well.

“They’re community-enhancing additions for people and animals,” she said. “I want to see more of them and I’m not committed to putting them at one park or another.”

Getz and Jordan are both running for re-election in May. Getz’s challenger is Jefferson Fisher. Jordan will face Taylor Neild and Taheruddin Quaraishi.

Peterson’s petition can be found on change.org by typing in “Dog Park at Rogers Park in Beaumont, Texas” in the search bar.

kaitlin.bain@beaumontenterprise.com

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