Pooch playground planned

Published 8:32 pm Monday, May 21, 2012

Above is a concept plan of a dog park planned for Lake Meade Park. The city says the park will include separate areas for small and large dogs.

Suffolk pooches are destined to get a dedicated public romping place with the city’s first dog park set to open at Lake Meade.

Parks and Recreation Director Lakita Frazier said the facility behind Farm Fresh will include two separate fenced areas of about an acre each, and be open to the public by mid- to late fall.

“The facility will be two large open-grass areas that will be surrounded by chain-link fence, one for smaller dogs and the other for larger dogs,” she said.

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The dog park will be well appointed. “We will definitely have water fountains for the patrons as well as for their pet friends,” Frazier said.

Dog-exercise areas, scratching posts and similar equipment will also be incorporated, she said.

The idea for a dog park was born last September, at the City Council’s 2011 retreat. “We were looking at improving the lives of as many people as possible, and our research indicated this would be a wonderful addition to the area,” Frazier said.

A completed site plan is currently being reviewed.

“Suffolk has a very growing population, of course, and as new individuals continue to move here, there are higher expectations for quality-of-life amenities such as parks,” Frazier added. “We just want to be able to provide a safe environment for both dogs and their owners, so dogs can exercise and play and interact.”

Suffolk Humane Society Director of Community Outreach Kay Hurley was surprised by news of the dog park. “I knew there had been some discussion, and I guess we’re looking forward to becoming acquainted with it,” she said.

“A lot of people in Suffolk have taken dogs to parks in Chesapeake and Smithfield, and I think they will be thrilled to have something close by in their home town. It’s a quality of life issue, and I think it shows Suffolk is a progressive, evolving community.”

Hurley noted some the requirements in place at other municipal dog parks, which are expected to apply to the future Lake Meade facility.

“Obviously dogs will need to be vaccinated,” Hurley said. “Ideally, dogs would be spayed and neutered, because that prevents a lot of aggressive behavior.”

“Certainly it’s important with children to make sure parents and guardians … (are) cautious and teach their children about approaching a dog; maybe this is an opportunity for that.”