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Keep former hospital grounds ‘dog-centric’

To the editor:

I feel dogs and their owners have suffered some unfair criticisms in the Gazette’s recent Opinion pages. In a September guest column, an Oct. 6 letter to the editor and an Oct. 8 editorial, dogs and their owners are portrayed as irresponsible, aloof and uncaring.

This is far from the truth. While I feel for residents’ recent injurious encounters, I’ve been a regular user of the dog park for about the last six years, and I’ve seen civility and courteousness in abundance. I’ve never witnessed any event similar to what’s been described. More often, I see dog owners try and succeed to defer to runners and bikers.

It is possible that as dog owners and caring citizens we can do more. I’m optimistic enough to believe that we can band together to improve our collective reputation. The park is important enough to us that we will respect others’ desires to use the space and keep our dogs’ bodies and poop out of its rights of way.

Additionally, we shouldn’t forget this is already a shared space. Running is limited to running groups on Tuesday nights, Smith often has cross-country meets on weekends in the fall, and the park also serves as a disc golf course. There are many trails to explore in and around Northampton and the Pioneer Valley (even right on the other side of the Mill River), but the former state hospital grounds are dog-centric, and should be kept that way.

Patrick Rathbun

Florence

Related

Editorial: Time to resolve dog-human conflict at former state hospital

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Is there a “dog park” at the site of the former Northampton State Hospital? This perennial question about the vast, natural area off Route 66 should have been settled years ago. Northampton officials need to step up and help find a solution. Conflict between people and dogs in this area has been occurring since the old psychiatric hospital closed in … 9

Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas: Northampton must address problem of unleashed dogs; one runner’s story of injury

Thursday, October 24, 2013

NORTHAMPTON — On Sept. 6 I went out for a run in the area of woods and meadows located between Smith College’s athletic fields and the Community Garden, on the south side of the Mill River. As I jogged a trail beside the river, an unleashed dog came bounding up the riverbank to greet me. I don’t know whether he … 2

Can someone tell me where exactly everyone is talking about? There are 2 sides of the Mill River I go with my dog. One side (I guess closest to Smith College) has a path that dog owners and runners go on. The other side is huge and also dog owners and runners go on.

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