Group says West Boca dog park needs addition

Posted at 8:12 PM, Jan 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-25 21:39:51-05

Welcome to Canine Cove, the home away from home for Bear, Prince and countless other dogs.

"When we're driving here, before we even turn the corner into the park, Prince is already looking out of the window," says Stephanie, a West Boca Raton resident who brings her dog to the park at least four times per week.

She calls is a "piece of Heaven" tucked away in Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park.

But there's a problem: The park only opens two enclosures open at a time. One is for dogs weighing less than 30 pounds, the other is for dogs heavier than 30 pounds.

"When Prince sees a large dog, he's scared. He makes a little bark," Stephanie explains, while holding her 14-pound dog.

She and other owners say the size discrepancies are too big. Oftentimes 10-pound dogs are getting hurt by 25-pound dogs, and 35-pound dogs and getting hurt by 80-pound dogs.

Owners say they've seen dogs be injured. It's forcing them to keep a constant eye on their dogs and they're uncomfortable, wondering what might happen next.

So they've emailed county leaders asking for a new enclosure for medium-sized dogs.

Jacob Kaplan has written some of the emails. He says his dog Leila is a good example of why the new play area is necessary.

The pit-boxer mix puppy grew up in the small dog side. Now, she's 31 pounds and outgrowing her friends. But Kaplan doesn't think she's ready to be with the big dogs.

"In the large dog area, I feel she is going to get ripped apart," he says.

The group has even offered to help pay for a new enclosure with a fundraiser, or sponsorships.

"We don't want to end up with our dogs injured or dead. We all love our dogs, they're our children, we would do anything for them," Pam Roth explains.

Roth, Kaplan and others got the attention of the county. The Parks and Recreation director says crews are designing an addition for the dog park now. Depending on the cost, the department may be able to rearrange the budget and make it a reality by the end of the year.

"I think they're finally taking us seriously," explains Roth who says she's been pushing for this since 2014.

Parks and Rec Director Eric Call says all three of the county's dog parks (at Lake Ida, Okeeheelee, and South County Regional Parks) have two enclosures, with a third kept on a rotation basis to let grass grow back.

In the future, Call hopes new dog parks will include three enclosures being used at once for small, medium and large dogs.

He says John Prince Park, near Lake Worth, is the next park slated to receive a dog park.