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A dog park in Shelton? City gathers public's ideas

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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Ken and Jeannine Larson have no problems finding off-leash dog parks for their two canines to roam in California, where they spend half the year. They also enjoyed many options near their former home in Seattle, including Magnuson Park.

But since moving to Mason County, the Larsons can't find a single place where their dogs can run free and socialize.

For many people, dogs are "more like surrogate children," Ken Larson told members of the city of Shelton's Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee on Monday evening. "People want their dogs to be happy."

Dogs need opportunities to socialize with dogs, and they also need exercise, Larson said.

"A dog is not meant to sit around bored all day," he said.

For the past year, the advisory committee has been discussing the development of an off-leash dog park in the Shelton area. Pets are not allowed in city parks. Owners can walk their dogs on leashes on the city's HufTn' Puff trails on Shelton Springs Road. Dogs are required to be on leashes in the city,

The closest dog park is in northeast Thurston County, a 5-acre site that formerly served as part of the landfill in the Hawk's Prairie area.

The talks are preliminary, but as board member Bill

Young stressed at Monday's meeting, "It seems to me we need the land first."

Mark Ziegler, director of the Shelton Parks and Recreation Department, said the dog park doesn't have to be within the Shelton city limits. But Ziegler said he reached out to the county parks department about an off-leash dog park, and "it's not on their priority list."

The Larsons were among four residents who attended Monday's meeting.

Jeannine Larson said there are two types of people who use off-leash dog parks: those who stroll with their dogs, and others who sit in chairs and chat with each other with their dogs nearby.

Ken Larson said a basic dog park needs land — even as little as a half acre — a fence, a garbage can and a list of rules. People can bring their own water, he said.

A park the couple frequents in California is divided into ball fields, a children's area and an off-leash dog park, Jeannine Larson said.

"They're not on top of each other, but they're part of the same park," she said.

Ken Larson said he walks his dog on the trails in the new Mason County-owned Oakland Bay Historical Park off Agate Road, despite a large sign that states "No dogs allowed." Larson said he rarely encounters anyone on their strolls, and the trails are becoming overgrown.

He suggested the park would be an ideal location for dogs to roam off leash. He also suggested that the owners of tree farms could designate a few acres for such a facility.

Advisory committee member Marilyn Vogler suggested an ideal site might be the grass parking lot where disc golfers park next to the Huff'n' Puff. Jeannine Larson agreed, pointing out that the site would be seen by many drivers at that busy intersection.

Young said the committee also talked to the Squaxin Island Tribe about establishing an off-leash park near the casino, but they were not enthusiastic.

The parks advisory committee next meets at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 11 at the Shelton Civic Center, 525 W. Cota St.

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Original Publication Date: July 17, 2014

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