Users of the Shippensburg Township dog park will be given a second chance, but will be on a short leash.
Bubba’s Happy Tails Dog Park will reopen Monday, June 10, for free use after temporarily closing in mid-March due to a lack of user compliance with posted rules. If dog owners continue to disobey posted rules, the township will close the park again and move onto a key card system, which will require users to pay a fee to “get people’s attention.”
“These rules are for the well-being of the people and the owners,” said Doris Asper, township assistant secretary/treasurer.
The fee is yet to be determined, but she noted it would be more than $25.
Asper said supervisors and park staff decided to reopen for free use once again because they don't want to charge the residents.
The park, which is located inside of the Shippensburg Township Park off of Britton Road, has been a free attraction to pet owners, from sunrise to sunset, every day since it opened in 2008.
Township supervisors and park staff decided to close the park back in March when owners of large dogs -- that weigh more than 35 pounds -- had been using the portion of the park designated for small dogs -- that weigh under 35 pounds. This resulted in the grass being destroyed in the small dog area.
There also was an increase in complaints from owners of small dogs who had encountered large dogs in their area, as well as an increase in the number of dog owners who were not cleaning up their pets’ excrement, even though the park has free bags and a waste receptacle.
“The grass is now in good shape, and with us having the recent rain, we need people to respect it,” Asper said.
There are also new red and white signs posted with the rules. No rule changes have been made, though. She noted the condition of the grass will be the lead indicator in deciding if they need to move onto a card system.
“We are hoping to be able to remain free to the public, but the responsibility rests on the public,” Asper wrote in an email to The News-Chronicle.
The township was forced to close its Splash Pad a few years ago after repeated incidents of rule breaking, including users changing diapers on tables, leaving dirty diapers on the deck, and even threatening township staff who were trying to enforce the rules. Residents wishing to use the Splash Pad now have to pay to reserve a two-hour time slot for the area.
If staff decides to move forward with a card system at the dog park, the park will be locked down until its installation. Asper said the township received bids for the card system, and is “ready to go if people don't listen.” The township has received bids, and the system will cost approximately $15,000, which is more than they initially projected. She added the township will not be making any profit off of the new system.
Staff are asking people to report violations to the township. However, Asper asks that in order to avoid any altercations, do not confront a violator, rather report the license plate number of the violator to the township office.
The municipal office has this information on hand, and will be able to contact any violators to warn them of their misuse. Asper said they can decide to ban dog owners who continually violate the rules.
“None of us want to be policemen,” Asper said. “The employees here have enough to do.”
1. No attendant on duty. Dog owners are legally and financially responsible for their dogs’ behavior. You use this park at your own risk. Shippensburg Township is NOT liable for any injuries to dogs, their owners/handlers, or others that use this park.
2. All dogs must be legally licensed and vaccinated and have annual fecal tests. Dogs that are sick or unhealthy are not permitted.
3. Keep your dog on a leash when entering and exiting the park, and have your leash on you at all times. Unleash and leash your dog in the entry area.
4. Limit 2 dogs per person in off-leash area.
5. No children under 10 years of age permitted. No one under 18 permitted without adult supervision.
6. No food (human or dog), cigarettes, alcohol, or glass permitted.
7. Never leave your dog unattended.
8. No female dogs in heat. Closely supervise intact males.
9. No puppies under 4 months of age.
10. No choke, prong (pinch) or spike collars.
11. Always clean up dog waste and place in appropriate containers. Waste bags and disposal receptacles provided.
12. Discourage digging. Owners must fill in any holes their dog digs.
13. No aggressive dogs.
14. No large dogs in small dog area and vice versa.
15. First-time park users should consider visiting during non-peak times. Listen to your dog’s body language. They will let you know if they are nervous. Take it slow; remember this is for your dogs’ enjoyment. Always leave the park when your dog is having a good time. This will make it more likely that they will want to do it again.
16. Professional trainers may not use this park to conduct their business.