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Pro: Dog park would increase pet, people sociability

By JR Ortega
June 15, 2014 at 1:15 a.m.

Jessica Coleman is happiest around dogs and she loves to meet people who love dogs as much as her. She knows if Victoria had a dog park she would be able to meet more people like that.

One of Jessica Coleman's peaceful escapes is buried in old downtown Victoria.

Riverside Park, the 30-year-old said, has long been a place of relaxation. The only thing missing? A dog park.

Dog lovers - new and old - need a communal place to meet and share their passion for their four-legged, furry family members, she said.

"For me, a dog park is just as much for me as it is the dog," Coleman said.

Coleman, who has six dogs - one a foster - loves each and every one of her pups. She also volunteers for Jackson County Happy Tails.

A dog park would promote socialization for the dogs and the people. Also being around dog owners is helpful to learn about what others are doing for their pets, she said.

The idea to invest in a dog park isn't too far-fetched. Dog park ranks third in a list of 29 facility priorities in the city of Victoria's 2025 master plan.

For now, it's not a question of if but when, said Colby Van Gundy, Victoria Parks and Recreation director.

"I think it's something that is definitely wanted," he said. "There is a lot more to it."

To do it right is costly, said Van Gundy, who, prior to moving to Victoria, helped build a dog park in Greenville, a city of about 26,000 people northeast of Dallas.

The price tag on a project can vary but to successfully build a dog park takes more than just fencing in an area.

Cleaning stations, an irrigation system and other amenities need to be considered.

"You want it done correctly so they don't become a maintenance issue," he said. "We have a lot of people that walk their pets in Riverside. I think it's something I've seen a growing interest in."

Coleman agrees, saying the dog park in San Marcos, where she used to live, took a lot of maintenance not only from the city's park and recreation department but from the park's users.

For now, Coleman makes it a point to walk her husky, Yorkie, basset hound, Jack Russell and two mutts around the block twice a day.

Going to a dog park, she said, would make it easy for her to talk with others who are also there about what their dog did that day.

Getting others excited about a dog's new trick isn't always easy, Coleman said, laughing.

"I can go to a dog park, and they're just as excited as I am," she said. "I'm happiest when I'm surrounded by dogs."

Con: City should invest in other projects; policing dogs could be an issue

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