Dog playground cost £15K

by Darren Jamieson on August 1, 2010

Most playgrounds in the UK are adorned with signs insisting that dogs are not allowed in. These signs often threaten heavy fines for anyone who dares to take their dog into the playground. Any open areas that do allow dogs insist that the dogs are kept on leads, with an area in Manchester recently even banning the use of extendable dog leads.

It’s fair to say that most places in the UK are not very dog friendly. However, one place that does welcome dogs is a park in Hertfordshire. The local council has paid £15,000 to have a new 30 square foot dog play area installed in Southern Country Park, located in Hertfordshire’s Bishop’s Stortford.

The new dog park includes plenty of activity equipment for dogs to get their exercise while having fun in the process. In what is reminiscent of one of the events seen at Crufts, dogs can run up ramps, chase through tunnels and jump over hurdles in the new £15,000 do recreational park.

The timing of the new park, the first of its kind commissioned by a local council, couldn’t have been better either as a report from the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals has just warned that over 50% of all dogs in the UK will become obese inside the next five years.

While the park may have gone down well with dog owners, some people aren’t so pleased about the expense. Emma Boon, a member of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, believes that the money could have been better spent elsewhere. She added:

“The local council must have gone barking mad to spend thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ cash on this canine attraction.”

“Of course dog owners should exercise their pets as part of looking after them but a run around the park should be sufficient.”

“It is not the job of the council to provide facilities for owners to play with their dogs and it certainly isn’t a priority at a time when money is tight and the council should be making spending cuts.”

Rachel Bennett is another local who is against the new park for dogs. Despite being into fitness herself, as a jogger, she thinks the park is a waste of money, commenting:

“It seems a bit barmy. What’s wrong with throwing a ball or a stick? Those don’t need maintenance and won’t be vandalised.”

However, the new dog park hasn’t gone down well with all dog owners either, as Diana Attwood – an owner of a Weimaraner who participates in agility competitions that uses the sort of equipment present in the new dog park, commented:

“It’s awful to think local residents are being bullied and robbed for their council tax for it to be wasted in such a stupid way.”

Local councillor Linda Haysey however defended the decision to create the new dog park – which cost £7,000 for the actual equipment, with the costs more than doubling for installation. She added:

“The area has been designed to help dogs and their owners keep fit and active. It’s a wonderful way for dog owners to socialise.”

Caroline Kisko, the secretary for the Kennel Club, commented on the lack of exercise that many dogs receive in the UK:

“Recent reports about pet obesity are testament to the fact that, sadly, dogs don’t always get the exercise that they need.”

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