As other communities establish dog parks, talk among Saugertiesians routinely turns to the question: Why not here?
The issue last came up in a public way in 2012, when a host of dog owners called on the town to establish a park. Then-supervisor Kelly Myers said they needed to put together a proposal. Nothing came of it.
“It seems as though the town has a lot of things to offer everybody, but dog-owners are kind of getting the short end of the stick,” said Rae Stang at the time.
Dog parks create more responsible dog ownership, Stang said.
“There also appears to be less fighting among dogs in a park than in other situations. Dogs get aggressive when they are leashed, but if you let them off leash they may be more sociable, play and things like that,” she said.
Former councilman Tom Macarille said the Town Board previously explored the idea of a dog park. “We looked around and did a feasibility study on where we could put a dog park. We looked at Cantine Field, we looked at the property down by the Glasco Fire House and we looked at property in Twin Maples. The problem we found was that surrounding neighbors didn’t want it near them. And, by the way, it’s very expensive.”
Once the park is opened, there’s a lot of work involved in maintaining it, he said.
“We really did take a hard look at it,” he said. “We had a relatively large committee of dog-owners and it was not feasible – we just couldn’t find the property.”
Resident Bob Davies said these issues shouldn’t deter the effort. “I haven’t found anything worth doing that is not difficult,” he said. Davies said he has been doing search-and-rescue work with dogs for many years.
“One thing I’ve found is there is no place for dogs,” he said. “I do a lot of hiking in the mountains, Echo Lake, wherever, and that’s about the only time I ever get to take my dog off lead.”
An incident one summer convinced Davies that it was not safe to walk a dog off lead, even in fairly remote areas. “I had a fellow hiker – I’m not going to call him a gentleman, he was anything but – threatened to shoot my dog the next time he saw my dog off lead. We definitely need a place where dogs can run safely off lead.”
Davies looked up census numbers and found that in 2010 there were about 7,478 households in Saugerties. Thirty nine percent of households in the United States have dogs, so Saugerties should have 2,916 dogs, without accounting for the fact that some households have more than one dog. “I think there’s a definite need, or at least an interest, in pursuing this further,” he said.
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