Advocating dog friendly public land.
All beings are not created equal under the eyes of the law. We know that dogs do not have the same rights and privileges as humans. Therefore I am not trying to compare the number of children and adults using public land for sports to dogs using public land. I am looking to compare the number of human residents using public land for sports to the potential numberof human residents using public land to run their dogs. I specifically have narrowed my comparison to baseball because both baseball fields and dog parks typically require large fenced green areas and thus similar resource.
According to the Humane Society there are 77.5 Million owned dogs in the USA. On average, owners have almost 2 dogs (1.7). The average household size in the USA is the USA is 2.59. If you look at households then 118 million people have at least one dog their life. If you look only at principle owners then 45 million people have at least one dog in their life.
According to the Havard/Yale School of Sports Studies approximately 42 Million youth and male adults play baseball in the United States, in any given calendar year.
Based on these figures I believe a strong case could be made that the number of people that could benefit from using public land as dog friendly leash free areas is greater then or equal to the number of people that benefit from the use of public land for the purpose of playing baseball. Also consider that baseball season typically runs between April and November where as dog parks are useful year round. The baseball parks I have seen largely stand idle the remaining 5 months of the year.
Examining the allocation of public land in Williamson County TN yielded the following:
|Williamson County Park Statistics|
|Bethesda Park & Recreation Center||5||0|
|Brentwood Civitan Park||6||0|
|College Grove Ballpark||2||0|
|Fairview Ball Park||4||0|
|Fairview Park & Rec Complex||0||0|
|Fly Park/Girls & womens Softball||6||0|
|Hillsboro-Leipers Fork Park & Rec||1||0|
|Judge Fulton Greer Park||0||0|
|Nolensville Dog Park||0||2|
|Williamson County Indoor Soccer||0||0|
|Willamson county Soccer Complex||0||0|
|Nolensville Rec Center**||3||0|
|Maggies Bark Park***||0||2|
*A dog park with a separate area for large small dogs counts as 2 parks.
**Nolensville Rec Center shows as closed however there are 3 baseball diamondsthat are used and only the building itself is closed.
***Maggies Bark Park is not listed however alternatesources confirm that it is the one of two dog parks in Williamson county.
A conservative point of view would be that both baseball and dog park facilities should be left to the private sector. I would propose, however, that since the infrastructure already exists for baseball fields it would be a more efficient use of public resources to allow dogs in those fenced areas during baseball's off season. This concept has precedence in that many areas, such as Dewey Beach, allow dogs only at certain times or seasons. Allowing dogs only in the baseball off season should also minimize the conflict between people who irresponsibly don't pick up after their dogs and baseball players stepping in the aforementioned feces. Much as baseball and other sports provide a positive structure for children become socialized individuals, an increase in common dog areas would provide the infrastructure necessary to allow dogs to become more socialized to humans and each other. This should help minimize many of the abuse/neglect and socialization issues that exist in the pet ownership population today.