AP NEWS

Monroe resident weighs support for a dog park

March 22, 2019

MONROE — When Sara Blamey moved to Monroe last year from Prospect, she was a bit taken aback that the town didn’t have its own dog park.

Blamey, 32, is the owner of a 1-year-old Vizsla named Strider and she was hoping for a place in her new town where she could take her dog.

“He’s very active and loves to run,” Blamey said. “Monroe is such a beautiful town. It was interesting to find, as a new resident, that there’s no dog park here.”

Hoping to change that, Blamey is in the early stages of meeting with other residents to determine interest in a dog park, and how to go about trying to get one in town.

She said she knows that she isn’t the first person to lobby for a dog park, and First Selectman Ken Kellogg said discussions of a potential pooch hub have been bandied about for a while.

Kellogg said he has discussed the possibility in the past with the town’s parks and recreation director and the chair of the town’s parks and recreation commission.

“One of the challenges is simply the number of other projects already under way or in the queue ... and I look to the (parks and recreation) commission to assist in making recommendations in prioritizing these initiatives,” Kellogg said in an email.

There’s also the question of where such a dog park would go.

“We would need to identify an appropriate area with sufficient parking, determine the rules, maintenance and cleaning/sanitation, etc.,” Kellogg said.

Blamey said she knows there’s a long way to go before a dog park is a reality, but she thinks the pursuit is worth it.

“It’s such a great way for neighbors to socialize and exercise our furry friends at the same time,” she said.

She pointed out that many nearby towns have dog parks, including Trumbull and Shelton.

“It begs the question — why not us?” Blamey said.

So far, her efforts have consisted largely of social media posts and small group meetings to determine interest in a place for pooches. Blamey said she and other park proponents are still discussing how to move the idea forward.

However, some town residents have reservations about adding a dog park to Monroe, including Amanda Fredericks, 32. Fredericks is a dog trainer and has three dogs of her own — two French bulldogs and a pit bull.

Though she said dog parks often sound like a good idea in theory, they can be problematic in multiple ways. Primarily, Fredericks said, when you have a bunch of dogs of different breeds, ages and temperaments in one place, dog fights can break out.

“It can be a giant free-for-all,” she said.

But Fredericks isn’t completely against dog parks. She said, if it’s large enough for dogs who might potentially clash to avoid each other, it could work.

Another possibility, Fredericks said, would be some sort of private facility where dog owners rent out a block of time to let their pooches frolic either alone or with a dog with whom they know they get along.

Yet, she said, even looking past personality conflicts, there are a lot of questions raised by the possibility of a dog park, including who would maintain it.

“Is somebody going to volunteer to go in and pick up poop every day?” Fredericks asked. “I doubt it.”