by Dylan Stone
Shara Bessell says she’s your average pooch-owner, and she’s now regular visitor to the Queen Elizabeth off-leash dog park with her dog Odin, though initially she wasn’t too keen on the concept.
“I wasn’t too keen on the off-leash dog parks idea, as I understand the whole stigma about it and how it can be dangerous.” However, she visited the dog park during quieter times and said, “it’s been fantastic”.
“With off-leash dog parks, it’s all about having responsibility over your own dog, exercising your own judgement. You need to make sure your dogs are going to be comfortable and safe in the park,” she says.
“I was going to the park at the same time everyday and I discovered a larger group who generally went there at the same time, so we would talk every day and get to know each other over the past 10 or so months that I’ve had my dog,” Miss Bessell said.
During her visits, however, her group discovered there were some issues with the park.
Chris McWaters, who visits the dog park most afternoons, told the Truth, “I got a petition going [addressing some of these issues] and placed it around some of the local shops, and once the petition had enough signatures, I handed it to the Mayor, and he has been great with it.”
The group say their five main priorities are to section off a portion of the park to create a separate agility section, expand the park to allow for separate areas for larger dogs and smaller dogs, install a permanent water trough for dogs to have access to fresh drinking water, to provide disability parking for dog owners who have mobility issues, and to reopen the nearby toilets.
Ms McWaters said her group has, “had two meetings with the Mayor so far, and he has turned up on time and viewed the situation first up. I want to make sure we are all going down the right track.”
Miss Bessell thanked the Council for fixing the fence and the gate, and she also thanked the Mayor for coming to the park to meet with the group.
Ms McWaters said a meeting will be held by the Council in the new financial year to discuss the petition, “to see what is feasible”.