Moab Bark Park – Making Moab Dog-Friendlier!
by Jessica Turquette
Moab is a beautiful area in which there are countless ways to enjoy the outdoors, but there are many restrictions when it comes to recreating with our best friends. Dogs are allowed off-leash on BLM lands but these are mixed use areas and often far outside the Moab area. The trails that are dog-friendly can be crowded, littered with poop and there are risks of getting lost and the occasional trap. There needs to be a place in town where dogs could be off-leash in a safe environment.
Working towards making an off-leash dog park in Moab a reality has been years in the making, but it’s finally here. Summer 2011, Moab’s BARK Park will open it gates to the four legged members of our community and their human companions. Starting as an idea of our local animal control officers, it took time to find a space and funding to complete the project but the space for the park was made available by the school district in the summer of 2010. Action committees, meetings and fund raising began and in less than one year Moab was able to make this animal control officer’s idea a reality. The area is located at 300 S 100 E, behind City Market and across the street from the Dog & Cat Clinic. It’s just shy of one acre and will have drinking fountains for people and dogs, a small dog area (for dog’s under 30 pounds) and lots of big shade trees to beat that summer heat.
Moab spends a lot of time giving locals and visitors a top notch experience when it comes to the outdoors, you can do just about anything here - hike, raft and even jump out of an airplane, but often it is not possible to bring your dog. It’s getting better for visiting dog lovers, we have a few pet friendly hotels, some great doggie daycare, and you can walk your dog around town on leash but we are far from what many people know as “dog-friendly.” Moab does not encourage dogs at city park events, nor in any outdoor patio eating establishment and there are very few shops downtown that will allow dogs.
We can tout some of the best places to see, take pictures and play hard with gear but we can’t say that we are dog’s best friend. So why is this? I sought out the answers and was surprised to find it’s not because we don’t like dogs, it’s all about responsible owners.
Dogs are not banned from the parks because there have been attacks; they are banned because people refuse to pick up poop. I know you pick up poop, but your neighbor doesn’t! There is a lot of poop around our beautiful downtown area grass that proves we don’t pick it up. Moab can’t afford the amount of officers needed to enforce clean-up. No dogs on the patio of restaurants? Often there is not space to make a separate place for dining guests with dogs and health codes frown upon the practice, plus not everyone wants to eat next to fido. No dogs in retail shops? It’s hard to shop and pay attention to your dog at the same time so shop owners would rather you focus on shopping, but there are a few that allow dogs.
All of this amounts to how dog owners manage their dogs around other people, but if we provide more spaces that are dog friendly, people with their dogs will have places to share and take pressure off the places that say no to pooches. The Moab BARK Park will be a place to enjoy your dog in a safe environment, conveniently located in the downtown area. Moab will not only add to its long list of awesome and amazing attractions, but we can become more “dog-friendly” for our locals and visitors at the same time.
For those skeptics, what are the benefits of the dog park to the people without dogs?
First, there will be fewer dogs on the trails if they have alternate places to recreate putting less pressure on our outlying areas. Also, that barking dog next store, well it may actually leave once in a while so they can give that dog some much needed exercise. It’s proven that well exercised dogs have fewer behavioral problems (like barking!). Dog parks are also a valuable asset to the city, the more useful amenities you have, the more attractive the city is to locals and visitors alike.
Dog parks also offer better dog management by the city, and can help reduce the amount of issues we have with leash law enforcement. The most beneficial aspect of a dog park is that it encourages responsible dog ownership. Some of the rules for the park require that the dogs be current on vaccinations, be under the owner’s voice command at all times, and that all poop be disposed of properly. For those who are skeptics of the idea that we need a dog park, encouraging responsible dog ownership will help keep our community cleaner and safer for everyone regardless of whether they use the dog park or not.