What started as a question on the “Nakusp Communicator” page on Facebook has turned into petition with hopes of being a reality. The question “would anyone want an off lease dog park in Nakusp” has resulted in 53 people signing a petition saying yes they would, as of Dec. 4.
Jackie Kilburn, a certified animal trainer, animal control bylaw officer of Nakusp and owner of Dog Sense Boutique is “so thrilled” at the number of people who have come in to sign the petition which is located at her store on Broadway Street. “Right now we are trying to find out who’s in support of it and who’s willing to work towards it,” she told the Arrow Lakes News. After the holiday season Kilburn would like to put together a steering committee that would consist of six to ten people for ideas. They would “get together, work out the bugs, come up with a plan, then present it to the Village council and see what kind of support they get there.”
In Kelowna, Kilburn was a part of the Okanagan Dog Owners Association a non-profit organization and a “voice for the dogs.” The City of Kelowna leased crown land to the organization for a yearly fee of $1. Members paid a $10 yearly fee and this would go towards maintaining and running the park. The members took turns re-filling the poop bag dispensers weekly, and once a month would have a work party to clean up what others hadn’t. They gave businesses the opportunity to become corporate members by paying around $100 to have their business logo or sign on the fence.
The park in Kelowna not only gave people a place to let their dogs run free and play but also gave trainers the opportunity to give behaviour demonstrations or a Q & A for people having trouble with their dogs. The Okanagan Dog Owners Association also put on events such as doggy Easter egg hunts and a Christmas parade of dogs.
This is what Kilburn would like to see here in town or as close to town as possible. You wouldn’t have to be a member to use the part however, anyone would be welcome to go there; but as a member you would have a few small perks as well as a voice in decisions being made.
Some might say, why does Nakusp need a dog park when we could take them to the beaches and fields around town?
“It would be necessary on a few levels,” Kilburn answered. “That doesn’t teach the dogs any social skills, and if you own a dog in today’s society, the dog also has to be a respectful member of the society otherwise it’s a problem. A dog park for anything, teaches dogs to be polite.”
“It’s a great gathering place to get people active out with their dogs in a safe confined area. Plus no one can tire out a dog like another dog.”
And even though you can take your dog almost anywhere, most spots are not off-leash legal, and most owners would love to let them run.
However not all dogs are for a dog park.
“Dogs are no different from people,” remarked Kilburn, “we all have our personalities, some are party goers and some prefer one on one.” Because of this Kilburn has an idea a little different from what you might see in other cities and towns. Her idea is to hopefully get a few acres, then divide it into three parts.
The first larger part would be a communal area, “for dogs that we know love to play and are social.” The second area would be for smaller dogs only, “problems that have come up in the past are that smaller dogs get mowed over and hurt by bigger dogs, and a lot of small dog owners are afraid of big dogs.” This would make it so small dogs and their owners feel safe. The third area would be for single use, it would provide a contained area for dogs that are not social, or maybe a dog that new owners are unfamiliar with. It can also be used for dogs that have been deemed dangerous.
Fore example, a Nakusp bylaw states that any Pit Bull or Pit Bull cross along with any Rottweiler or Rottweiler cross are automatically deemed dangerous and must always be on leash or muzzled in town. The third area of this park would allow them to be muzzle- and leash-free, with the addition that you bring your own padlock and flip a sign saying ‘in use.’ Once you do that the area would be yours for an hour.
Kilburn, along with 53 others, agreed that a dog park would be great for our town. It would give tourists a place to let their dogs run after a long drive as well as a place for dogs to burn off energy and make some new friends.