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Dog park wants funds

The difference between a dog on a leash and a dog running free is attitude, says Justin Whitecalf. "When they're off the leash, they're way more laid back. You can tell the difference," said Whitecalf Tuesday at Moorhead's Woodlawn Park, his Germ...

The difference between a dog on a leash and a dog running free is attitude, says Justin Whitecalf.

"When they're off the leash, they're way more laid back. You can tell the difference," said Whitecalf Tuesday at Moorhead's Woodlawn Park, his German shorthair, Orion, in tow.

Moorhead dogs may have more opportunities for leash-free romping if city park officials can convince dog owners and other canine-friendly groups to cough up $15,000 for a dog park. The park would be similar to the dog park built in Fargo in 2002, said Recreation Manager Holly Heitkamp.

Plans call for between six and 12 acres of fenced-in land, Heitkamp said. Dogs would be allowed in the park without leashes, a restriction required in other city parks.

The park would feature amenities both common --benches, trees and possibly restrooms -- and canine, like scoops and bags for feces and bi-level water fountains to serve both humans and dogs.

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Whitecalf said when he has taken Orion to the Fargo park, he has been struck by how social dogs become when unleashed.

"They're just so defensive with a leash on," he said. "I thought it was kind of cool to see the dogs interact."

Heitkamp said the park's location has not been selected, though potential sites include city-owned land by Centennial Arena in north Moorhead and some city industrial areas.

Locations in residential areas were ruled out because frequent barking tends to annoy neighbors, she said.

The City Council earmarked $7,000 for the project in this year's budget, but the total price of the park will likely be about $22,000, Heitkamp said.

That difference will need to be made up in private donations, she said.

Park officials will gauge how interested dog owners, pet stores and other groups will be in helping raise the money during a meeting next month, Heitkamp said.

Even if money cannot be raised to build a dog park, the city should consider giving away bags for feces disposal in other parks where owners frequently bring dogs, such as Gooseberry Mound Park, said Councilwoman Diane Wray Williams.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535

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