For area canines who want to run free without being caught by a bylaw officer, the options in Woolwich are pretty doggone slim. At Creature Comfort Pet Emporium in St. Jacobs, the “Pawzone K9 Park” is, at the moment, the only leash-free dog park in Woolwich Township. And for owner Chris Schaefer, the dogs of the area are having a ruff time of it.
“We’ve been trying to get more in for years,” said Schaefer, a strong supporter of leash-free dog park initiatives. “We’re hoping they’ll approve a larger one.”
Creature Comfort opened Pawzone in August 2012, and the yard serves as a year-round venue for Woolwich’s pups to frolic.
“It’s great for people who don’t have fenced-in yards, or any yard, for apartment dwellers,” said Schaefer. “We have people saying, ‘Thank you so much for giving us this, we would pay for this service.’”
The park is fenced off, with a double-gate entrance so the dogs cannot escape. Schaefer said that its modest size offers dog owners certain advantages. “In K-W there are bigger parks, but they’re sometimes full, and sometimes there are dogs that are not appropriate to be with other dogs,” she said.
And, with dogs needing to walk in every month of the year, Schaefer said her park has seen little dip in its activities. “People don’t like to go out and walk all that often in the winter,” said Schaefer. “Having a leash-free park gives people a venue to drive to in the warmth of their car. They get out, let their dog play for 20 minutes, back in the car, they’ve had an outlet.”
While this private property remains the only leash-free dog park in the area, efforts have been ongoing to introduce an official township park. In 2009, Woolwich council tabled a plan to introduce a park in St. Jacobs, in a site that would have been insulated by bush, woods and a creek. Council determined that the plan would overextend the township’s bylaw enforcement staff.
“They’ve been approached many times, and it’s just a matter of getting locations approved,” said Schaefer of council. “Sometimes residents are objectionable to having one nearby – they’re concerned about noises and mess and things like that.”
In June 2012, another dog park was pitched to council by Lyric Pauley, owner of ShamPoochies Dog Grooming in Elmira. Compared to the more informal setting suggested in the earlier proposal, this park would require built-in fencing. Council liked the idea, which it has not yet vetoed, but expressed some concerns over cost. Fundraising efforts for the park are underway, with Bolender Park in Elmira suggested as a possible area (locations have also been considered in St. Jacobs).
Whether the money can be raised – and whether council will throw the dogs a bone – remains to be seen. Until then, Pawzone can be found at Creature Comfort Pet Emporium at 1553 King St. N.