Dog parks are a great asset to most communities. Most residents like the idea because they will have somewhere safe to walk and play with their pet. Businesses are also usually excited about a new dog park coming to the neighborhood because there is a chance it may bring new business as well. So why aren’t residents of Lake Charles, Louisiana excited to see a dog park coming to their city?
It all started on Tuesday, September 15th when the Lake Charles City Council approved an ordinance to accept donations for amenities that will go towards the proposed Lake Charles Dog pPark. They are looking for garbage cans, benches, fountains, and other similar conveniences that will make the park more enjoyable for local dog owners. What’s so bad about that?
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It wasn’t the actual ordinance that met resistance; it is the location of the dog park that has residents fired up. James Bittner, owner of MacFarlane’s Celtic Pub and Brick House Catering, says that it came to his attention from a customer who was not impressed about the proposed location. His business is at the same intersection that the dog park will be at. He has had multiple customers ask him to start a petition to have the dog park relocated.
So far there are over 130 signatures on the petition. One of the concerns from Bittner’s customers is that they will no longer be able to enjoy the view from the eatery’s porch. Instead of looking at a beautiful landscape, they will now be watching dogs go to the bathroom.
Noise is another concern. Of course there will be dogs barking and owners calling to their pets – it is a dog park after all – but would you want to hear all that racket while you were trying to enjoy a dinner out with your significant other? Probably not.
The dog park project is being run by The Southwest Louisiana Quality of Life Task Force. They are raising funds to see the dog park completed. The organization says that they are doing everything they can to assure that Bittner’s customers won’t be affected. Member Hardtner Klumpp said in a statement:
“…we have even used some of the parish rules for the dog park. Rules that kind of mitigate some of the concerns that Mr. Bittner has, as to waste and the smell and whatnot and have the shrubbery up against the fence so you can't really see inside for the nasty droppings that a dog may have…”
Ultimately, it will be up to the city where the dog park is located and how the final design will look. Randy Roach, city mayor, says that the city does recognize the desire for a dog park among community members, but it has to accommodate everybody’s needs. That’s the tricky part.
He says that they don’t want any businesses or residents to be negatively affected by the creation of a dog park, so they will be taking a second look at the design to see if there is anything that can be done to mitigate the concerns of Bittner and his customers.
Bittner made it clear that he is not against the dog park; in fact the porch of his restaurant is dog friendly. He would just prefer that the park be in a different location.
I don’t blame him for wanting it moved. I would certainly call myself a dog lover (actually dog obsessed may be a more correct term) but I wouldn’t want to smell dog waste or look over and watch a dog doing his business while I was trying to eat my lunch either. It’s nice to sit outside at a dining facility and enjoy the fresh air and scenic views, but when the air smells like dog poop and the view consists of a barking dog or one dog humping another, I’d rather sit inside.