Dog owners dismayed by City of Calgary’s decision to shut down water station at southwest park

Click to play video: 'Southwest Calgary dog owners upset after water station ordered closed'
Southwest Calgary dog owners upset after water station ordered closed
WATCH: Residents in Calgary’s southwest are speaking out after their community-led water station at their local dog park was shut down by the City of Calgary. Jessie Weisner reports – Aug 5, 2021

Calgarians who frequent a southwest off-leash dog park are frustrated that the City of Calgary is trying to stop a community-run water station that helps keep pups hydrated.

Since the spring, the park on the corner of Anderson Road and 14 Street Southwest has had water dispensers filled to the brim thanks to more than two-dozen community members who voluntarily fill them.

Residents bring water to the park in four-litre milk jugs, each one labelled with the names of the ‘dogs’ who brought them.

However, visitors to the park recently showed up to find a sign saying the hydration station was “closed” on orders from the City of Calgary.

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The park is one of 150 public off-leash areas run by the city.

A spokesperson said the city received a complaint to 311, with the main concern being the safety of the dogs.

“We’re not able to guarantee what’s in the water,” John Merriman, a parks community strategist, said. “It could be unsafe for dogs to share the same bowl, and it may attract wildlife.

“While we appreciate the spirit of the residents, we are suggesting people bring their own water.”

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Jeff Selby, who’s been visiting the park for more than 20 years, says he finds it disappointing that the city would shut down the water station.

“We know the people that come, there’s no real danger,” Selby said.

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Rickie Selby, meanwhile, said she’s frustrated that despite the many people who volunteer to keep the water station running and the many more who use it, all it took was one person complaining to have it taken down.

“We were in a heat wave — it was 30 degrees out some days — people were relying on their dogs being able to go there and drink,” she said. “Dogs can get heatstroke in 10 minutes.”

Paul Millar, who has lived in the area for two decades, was also disappointed by the decision.

“(Dogs) need the water after they’ve been running around. There’s a lot of high-energy dogs here and all the dogs are very social,” Millar said. “They get a lot of exercise and they need hydration.”

“It gave everybody a sense of community,” he said. “People would show up to water their dogs and chat and it’s just sad to see it gone.”

Millar said he didn’t understand why it would be removed without any explanation.

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“If there’s a valid reason, post it and let everybody know — because all dog owners would want to know if there’s a risk for their animal — but to just arbitrarily remove it seems pretty bureaucratic.”

Millar said dog-owners will still bring water until they “put a city worker there.”

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Devri Marin, who frequents the park, says a lot of people appreciated the water station.

“This summer especially,” Marin added. “It’s been really hot. These guys need water when they’re out here running around.”

“I know that there’s a lot of people out here that depend on having [water] here,” Marin said. “A lot of people gather, sit on the benches in the shade. The dogs sit in the shade.
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“It’s a shame that it was shut down by the city.”

— With files from Jessie Weisner

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