Tue, Jan 08, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Local governments urged to build more dog parks

By Liu Pei-fen and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A woman plays with dogs in the dog recreation area of Taipei’s Zhishan Park in an undated photograph.

Photo courtesy of Taipei City Animal Protection Office

Taiwan Alliance for Animal Rights Policy executive director Ho Tsung-hsun (何宗勳) has called on local governments to build more dog parks that meet criteria he said should be standard.

The nation has no standards for dog parks, but they all should have five basic elements, Ho said.

The parks should have separate areas for large and small dogs to protect the latter from injuries, as well as two-stage gates to prevent unleashed dogs from running out, he said.

The parks should have litter bag stations so that owners can pick up after their dogs and garbage cans with lids to contain odors, Ho said.

The facilities should have shaded areas where people and dogs can take a break from the sun and tents to protect them from the rain, he said.

There are 14 parks that meet these standards, Ho said, giving as examples Taipei’s Tanmei Happy Pet Park (潭美毛寶貝快樂公園), Taichung’s Cyuanyuan Pet Park (台中的泉源寵物公園) and Pingtung City’s Gaoping Pet and Sports Park (屏東高屏溪河濱寵物運動公園).

The Council of Agriculture has said that there are no legal standards for dog parks and that they are regulated by governing bodies depending on their location.

Regulations set by the Water Resources Agency, local animal protection offices, park authorities and other bodies might come into play when building dog parks, the council said, adding that the complexity of the issue means that there is no single standard for the 36 pet parks nationwide to follow.

“Presently, pet parks only focus on letting dogs be active ... [but] a comprehensively planned park should also prevent conflicts that occur when people, dogs and cars are thrown into the mix, and should allow dogs to run freely without disturbing people,” Ho said.

Ho also defined a standard list of 21 items that he said would create the most beneficial environment for dogs and their owners.

The list includes 11 “basic” items, such as facilities to provide drinking water for dogs and a bulletin board for pet-training advice, and eight “advanced” items, such as a play area and a washing station to clean dogs’ feet and people’s hands.

The other two items call for volunteers to patrol the parks on a regular basis and an “innovation facility” where visitors could voice their ideas to improve the parks.

“These 21 items comprise what we at the alliance think is an ideal standard, but currently none of Taiwan’s 36 pet parks meet these standards,” Ho said.

The number of dog parks are also insufficient, and 11 counties and municipalities do not have pet parks, he said, adding that New Taipei City has one park for every 14,370 dogs.

Providing dogs with space where they can be happy and unfettered is the joint responsibility of local governments and residents, Ho said.

However, despite there still being a low number of pet parks nationwide, the emergence of such parks in the past few years is a positive development that should be celebrated, he said.

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