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City’s first dog park plans May 4 fundraising kickoff

SALISBURY — Salisbury’s going to the dogs.
DogPAWS will host a kickoff event May 4 to launch a fundraising campaign and introduce Salisbury pooches — and their owners — to plans for the city’s first off-leash dog park.
“There are so many dog fanatics in this city, it is unbelievable,” said Theresa Pitner, a member of the city’s dog park task force.
The group has come up with a logo and name, DogPAWS, which stands for Dog Parks and Walks of Salisbury. The kickoff from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. will feature food, music, doggie Olympics, K9 contests and pet vendors.
City staff will be available to discuss park plans and answer questions, and admission is free. All leashed dogs are welcomed to bring their owners to the site of the future park, located on East Bank Street in the open space between the Civic Center and Office Depot building.
As volunteers have worked on park plans, they’ve found ways to address three common concerns, said Pitner, who updated City Council on the project with Jonathan Cerny.
Dog owners were worried about the health of other dogs at the park, potential dog fights and the presence of children, she said.
The park will require a free electronic key card for entry. To apply for a card at the Civic Center, dog owners must prove their pet is up to date on all vaccinations, Pitner said.
“This makes our park different,” she said.
The park will include a walking trail around the outside of the fence, and first-time visitors should walk their pets around the perimeter before entering, which will help socialize the dogs, Pitner and Cerny said.
And because fast-moving children and unfamiliar dogs are not always a good combination, the park will not allow children younger than 12 years, she said. Older children are allowed with adult supervision.
Phone numbers, including after-hours information, for Rowan County Animal Control and Salisbury Police will be posted.
Additional rules include:

• No puppies younger than four months. No dogs in heat.
• Dog handlers must be 18 years or older.
• No more than three dogs per handler.
• Dogs showing aggression should be removed and try again another day. Reports of aggressive behavior will be documented, and repeated offenses may result in a revocation of park access.
• Pick up all waste. Fill any holes your dog creates.
• Fido and Rover only. No other animals.
The park will feature two fenced-in areas, one for large dogs and another for small. Owners will choose which area to enter.
The task force will develop the park in two phases. Phase one, which will cost $45,000, includes fencing, the entry and gating system, water and electric installations, benches, water fountain, dog waste stations, trash cans and grass.
Phase two will run $16,000 and include concrete play pipes and additional water fountain, dog waste stations, trash cans, benches, shade trees and other landscaping.
To reserve a booth for the kickoff event or for more information about volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, call 704-754-2536 or 704-458-4677.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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