Nicole Bezanson-Harris has been driving from Kentville to Hantsport so her dog can frolic in a secured off-leash dog park.
She and her husband, Frank, take their Greyhound, Jules, to the park as their own Kentville backyard has limited space, and because no such park space currently exists within Kentville.
They are now working to change that with the Kentville Off Leash Dog Park Association, which is aiming to establish such a park for dogs in this end of the Annapolis Valley.
“Dogs need to be able to release their pent-up energy and be able to explore and run around. Others also need to be able to socialize, to play and just be dogs in a space just for them,” says Bezanson-Harris.
The couple has taken the group’s reins from founder Mike Schroeder, who started talks with the Town of Kentville on the group’s plan to build a double-gated park with an enclosed area dogs can safely run around in.
Kentville parks and recreation director Rachel Bedingfield confirmed the town is planning on contributing funds to the project and will discuss the dollar amount during its budget process.
“We do have a plan in place and are really excited to work with this association. It’s very possible, in future years, that this will receive some funding because it’s been identified as something we want to support in terms of long-term planning,” she says.
Bezanson-Harris says the group is now working to establish a board of directors to organize the project and its fundraising campaigns. With estimates for cost having reached $30,000, plenty of fundraising is needed.
Schroeder says the group had identified Kentville’s Eaves Hollow park area, with its existing infrastructure and proximity to popular dog-walking destination Harvest Moon Trail, as a potential location for the park.
Bedingfield says this park is one of several spots being considered, and that another option could require land acquisition. She says the town will work with the association to determine whether the land for the park space will be publicly or privately owned.
Whether public or private, the park will be a contained, secure area surrounded by fencing so the dogs can run around and be themselves.
Schroeder says that while some open run areas currently exist for dogs, they are not always friendly and can pose problems.
“A lot of times, those aren’t welcome places. This area gives good social interactions and lets the dogs get to know each other,” says Schroeder.
Bedingfield reminds all dog owners that until an off-leash park is established, there remains an on-leash policy within Town of Kentville and its parks.
She says striking the right chord in terms of safety and hygiene for the public, the dogs and their owners will be a top priority in establishing the new park area.
“It’s all about looking at small dogs versus large dogs, cleanliness, mitigating disease and the spread of germs – this is what we’ll be looking at,” says Bedingfield.
“This is in the very beginning stages, except where we’ve moved is we’re very motivated to have a dog park.”
Contact the group about getting involved here: https://www.facebook.com/KentvilleDogPark/.