February 14

Too much poop: Augusta Dog Park closed because owners aren’t picking up

Dog waste in Augusta’s two enclosed dog areas at Mill Park have forced city officials to close the park, at least until spring, when they will encourage users to report those who fail to pick up after their pets.

By Keith Edwards kedwards@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

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CLOSED: Pet owners hoping to let their dogs run off leash and play with others at the Augusta Dog Park are greeted with this sign, which explains that the park is closed because people were not picking up after their pets.

Staff Photo

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NO PICKUP, NO PARK: Volunteers have cleaned up the Augusta Dog Park in the past, but the committee that runs the park says too many owners are leaving behind a mess and it’s become unsanitary, so they have closed the park for now.

Staff file photo by Joe Phelan

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Dahlin said the park will open back up, likely in the spring, after it warms up and the park can be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected following Department of Environmental Protection guidelines, since the site is near the Kennebec River.

If and when the park does reopen, Dahlin and Dunn encourage anyone who sees someone not picking up after their dog to tell the owner they need to do so. And if they don’t, call Dahlin , at 626-2305, or police.

“If I can find out who is doing it, I’ll have them cited and no trespassed, because that’s not right,” said Dahlin, referring to an official order banning them from returning to the park. “The few are wrecking it for responsible pet owners.”

Dahlin and Dunn said volunteers have been picking up the waste left by others, but they haven’t been able to keep up with it. And they’ve become disgusted they have to keep picking up others’ pet waste.

City ordinance requires dogs on school property, at city parks, community centers or playgrounds, the Kennebec River Rail Trail, and other designated trails, to be on leashes.

The Augusta Dog Park opened in 2010, as a place where dogs could be off-leash on public property, with two fenced in areas — one, 9,600-square-foot area for all sizes of dogs, and a 4,900-square-foot area for petite pooches. The Augusta Rotary Club donated about $9,000 to create and enclose the park, which has been used heavily ever since.

“Some days, we’ve had as many as 20 or 30 dogs in there at one time,” Dunn said. “It’s funny, we thought, when it opened, with that amount of dogs, we’d have problems with some of them, behaving badly. We found it’s not the dogs we’re having problems with. It’s the people.”

Keith Edwards - 621-5647 kedwards@centralmaine.com

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