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Friday, November 09, 2012 7:21 PM

City: Dog park fundraiser barks up right tree

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer

Ottawa pet owners who would like a “bone-shaped” license tag for their dogs will have the chance to purchase one from the city.

Ottawa city commissioners unanimously approved a fundraising plan at their meeting Wednesday night to help establish and maintain a dog park in Ottawa.

A group of community members who want a dog park in the city are proposing that when pet owners renew their annual dog licenses in January they could receive a tag shaped like a bone for an additional $5, Wynndee Lee, the city’s director of planning and codes administration, told commissioners. Those additional funds would go to the dog park project.

The city licenses about 750 dogs annually, city staff estimated at a recent study session. Dog owners who do not want to make a donation would receive the conventional small, round-shaped tag, Lee said.

The city’s current license fee for neutered/spayed dogs is $5 and $15 for canines that have not been neutered or spayed.

Cathy Sutton of Sutton’s Jewelry, 207 S. Main St., Ottawa, a proponent of the dog park, has offered to engrave the tags with the dog’s name and the owner’s address and phone number for an additional $5, Lee said. That engraving fee also would benefit the dog park project, she said.

The owner of a neutered dog, for example, could pay $10 and receive a bone-shaped tag, or $15 and get an engraved, bone-shaped tag, Lee told commissioners.

City staff have been working with a group of community members who would like to establish a dog park in Ottawa, Lee told commissioners at a recent study session. The group has not identified a site for the dog park as of yet, Lee said Wednesday night, but the park’s boosters are working in partnership with Prairie Paws Animal Shelter, 3173 K-68, Ottawa.

A dog park — a large, fenced enclosure where dogs can run loose without leashes — was among the top vote-getters of what Ottawans would like to see in new park and recreational offerings, according to a 2008 study commissioned by the city.

Prairie Paws representatives had estimated the fencing and other costs associated with starting a dog park could total $20,000 to $25,000 — depending on the size of the park, Lee said at a recent study session.

While the tag fundraiser would not cover all the expenses associated with a dog park, Lee said, those additional funds would help offset the park’s costs.

Commissioners said they thought a dog park was needed in the community, and they liked the idea of establishing the fundraiser.

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