RUN, OPAL RUN!

No one has asked for advice yet today, but I’m going to provide it… to Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) City Council:  Today’s the day I submit my funding request on behalf of the Advisory Committee for Persons With Disabilities (ACPD).  Remember?  You sent a representative to one of our meetings last autumn.  That cheery soul mentioned that there was spare money in the city’s budget. When he asked if anyone on the ACPD had suggestions for using it for a ‘disabilily’-related project,  I blurted out,   “Fenced runs for Service dogs”!!!   That generated questions.  I explained that Guide dogs and other working dogs, needed a place to run…a fenced, grassy area within an existing park, where owners, or handlers of Guide and Service dogs, could let their dogs ‘blow the stink off’ (Nova Scotian expression) in a SAFE environment.  I pointed out that our dogs are too valuable to set loose, even in an off-leash park.   Most of us who have working dogs do not own property with fenced yards. We live in apartments  and ride public transit.  Even an off-duty Guide dog with excellent recall, can be tempted to wander out of range in some situations.  Personally, I will not risk losing track of my Guide dog, Opal.  She could get lost, become injured, or eat litter that would make her ill.   I mentioned that I had heard about some  large American cities having fenced dog runs. So, City Guy told me to whip up a proposal for Council.  In the weeks to follow, I spoke with Guide dog owners and handlers.  I  Googled and e-mailed a zillion people and organizations.  Local opinion was strong. People liked the idea…a lot. One guy with a guide dog suggested that ANY dog be allowed to use the proposed runs.  I drafted my initial proposal, which also included a request for signatures of support. I posted it here and there (vets’ etc.).  By November, City Guy came back to the ACPD with initial response from the legal beagles. They were concerned about liability issues and feared expensive working dogs might be torn apart in the proposed run, by an aggressive pet dog.  His city planning types recommended bells and whistles, such as, lighting, security cameras…I was asked to re-jig the proposal as a ‘service dog only’ run.  Done.   Better a limited version of the run, than no version, I think. So, my advice? Approve the idea. Fund it. It will make Halifax a model for Canadian cities…and Opal will have a place to run.   See Opal run!!!!!

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