Letter to the editor: Don’t shut dogs off public spaces in South Portland

The South Portland Dogs and Public Spaces Ad Hoc Advisory Committee asked me if I support an enclosed dog park, with dogs banned from all public spaces in South Portland or kept on a leash in public spaces. My short answer is: no, I am not willing to use a restrictive, unsanitary, shadeless, grassless, gated dog park in a city with 375 acres of parkland and 25 acres of open conservation easements.

Ben Rapaport of South Portland walks with his dog, Finn, at Willard Beach in South Portland on October 12, two weeks before city councilors approve new temporary off-season leash requirements for dogs at Willard Beach and Hinckley Park. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/photographer, file

I’ve been following the ongoing clashes between dog owners and supposedly “worried” citizens who fear walking on the beach during dog hours. If people are afraid of dogs or want to watch birds, they can go to any other park or open space in the city to do so. The Audubon is dog-free – go there for bird watching.

The amount of hyperbole and scare produced by these hyperactive conversations is appalling and frightening to anyone living in what is considered, albeit loosely, a democracy, since the anti-dog rhetoric seems to be coming from a very vocal minority of no -dogs. people. Most of us are tired of dealing with a minority opinion, whether it’s about dogs or vaccines.

I watched a Nat Geo Wild vet show set in Australia. It’s called “Vets on the Beach”, and the scenes of crowded beaches populated by humans and dogs sunning, playing, frolicking and surfing together are quite refreshing and so contrary to what’s happening in southern Portland. We have become a nation of Karens.

Barbara Dee
South Portland

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