Salter Park in Harper Woods to allow dogs

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published October 12, 2018

File photo by Erin Sanchez

HARPER WOODS — Salter Park in Harper Woods is going to the dogs.

At its regular meeting Oct. 1, the Harper Woods City Council approved plans to allow Salter Park to become a dog-friendly park, meaning properly accompanied dogs will be allowed inside the grounds. Previously, dogs were prohibited from the park.

“A dog-friendly park is a park where dogs are allowed to be,” said Larry Hakim, a member of the Harper Woods Planning Commission. “There’s many stipulations as to how they are allowed to be in the park, versus being a park that posts ‘no dogs allowed.’ It has a walking trail around the perimeter of the park for dogs and those exercising, but dogs are allowed throughout the park, so long as they are controlled on a leash.”

There is no set start date for when the park will become dog-friendly.

“People can bring their dogs down there once the notices are posted, and that should be happening by the end of fall,” said Harper Woods City Manager Joe Rheker.

For those who already use Salter Park for non-canine-related uses, city administrators said there is nothing to fear.

“To be clear, it’s a dog-friendly park, not a dog park,” said Rheker. “Salter Park will still be used in all the same ways it was before, but now we will be allowing people to bring dogs there so long as they follow the rules.”

Hakim said it was past time there was a public resource for dog owners in Harper Woods, and he added that it will improve the quality of life for dog owners and non-dog-owners alike.

“I take my dogs over to Spindler Park in Eastpointe almost every week,” he said. “The streets have bikes and kids running all over the place, and cars, of course; you might have properties you don’t want to go on or near, and this way, there’s a nice, fenced-in space for people to go with their dogs. It’s safer and more convenient for everyone.”

Rules will be enforced regarding the dogs in the park to ensure that everyone, both humans and animals, will be safe and the grounds of the park will be maintained.

“A dog has to be leashed, although the length of the leash is still being decided,” said Hakim. “There will be bags and garbage cans throughout the park so people can pick up behind their dog, with the same rules as people having to pick up after their dogs if they go on the city streets. The rules say the dogs need to have their up-to-date rabies shots.”

Corinne Martin, the executive director of the Grosse Pointe Animal Adoption Society, said she is very excited that there is such a resource available for dog owners, but she hopes that the city will take additional measures to educate the public on the requirements of bringing a dog to the park.

“I am pleased that they would consider implementing a dog-friendly park in Harper Woods,” she said. “I did hope there was more clarification on how people can use the park for the sake of safety. As it’s open to the public, I think there needs to be more clarification on the type of collars and leashes, and how people have to ensure their dog has to have a rabies vaccination.”

Rheker is confident that the rules governing the park are sufficient, and he said that the city can alter the requirements as needed if Harper Woods administrators feel it’s necessary.

“As long as people are responsible with their vaccinations, and keep their dogs on a leash and pick up after their dog, I don’t see any reason why we can’t have a nice park where people can bring their dogs in a safe outdoor environment,” said Rheker.

Hakim believes the change will be a nice addition to the Harper Woods community.

“I think it gives dog owners, as well as the dogs, a place to exercise, walk and communicate,” Hakim said. “Dog people are like Harley-Davidson owners; they like to go out and be out with their dog and spend time with their dog and meet other dog people. It’s also helpful for the benefit of the dog. There’s nothing like this in Harper Woods.”