A new trend that’s proving popular in Iowa is a public park for people who share a passion for pets. Cities are creating off-leash dog parks where people can mingle while their pets run free. Lara Moore says residents in Iowa City are working to get a dog park. It’s a fenced-in area where you take dogs and let them off the leash so they can run, exercise and have fun with other dogs — and owners don’t have to worry they’ll run into the street, be hit by a car, or get into some other danger. A site’s under consideration along the Iowa River in a neighborhood called “the peninsula.” The park will be 10 acres of the “Peninsula Park” land. It’ll be divided up, with a 1-acre section just for small dogs, another for training, and the rest for the main dog park. Moore owns “Woofables,” a gourmet dog bakery, and will provide the treats for a fundraiser on Sunday April tenth. People will bring dogs to Lower City Park, and unleash them to find the egg-shaped treats in this one-time event., billed as an “EGG-Stravaganza.” (yes, 2 weeks after Easter) Ticket sales will help raise funds to create the dog park. Iowa City won’t be the first to create a welcoming public space for people and their pets. Nancy Carroll, director of Ames Parks and Recreation, says the Ames city council’s added a proposal for a dog park to its capital-improvement plan for the next five years. There’s no funding or authorization for the project, but being included in the city’s improvement plan means the idea will be discussed by the community and city staff — where it might be, what it would look like, and how to raise the 150-thousand dollars it’s estimated would be needed to build it. There’s even a potential site, south of Highway 30 just east of Duff Avenue on Ames’ south side. Nationwide, Carroll says we’re seeing dog parks among the fastest-growing areas in municipalities. While we’re recognized sports in the past like baseball, basketball or soccer, now people are saying their form of recreation is their dog. Carroll sees a lot of potential value in a dog park after looking over those in other cities including West Des Moines. They just recently completed a (dog) park and are telling her it’s one of their most successful facilities — that you get a variety of people who haven’t used parks much, like handicapped or older people. Because it’s fenced in they can take their pet for good exercise off the leash even if their own mobility’s limited. West Des Moines has a 10-acre dog park, divided into areas for large and small dogs, and 700 people have bought the 25-dollar annual permit to bring dogs there any time. Cedar Rapids has an 18-acre dog park in its Cheyenne City Park, and also requires owners to prove the animal has shots and is neutered, and to purchase an annual or daily pass.
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