Local Vibes

LITTLE EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – Dog lovers in southern Ocean County, starting June 1, will have a specially designed place to take Fido and Fluffy where they can run and roam off-leash.

Ocean County Commissioner Virginia E. Haines, chairwoman of the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation, announced the opening of the new dog park to be located at Freedom Fields County Park, Route 539, here, during the May 26 preboard meeting of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners.

“We have received numerous requests from dog owners in the southern part of the County to open a dog park closer to them. This new regional off-leash dog park is easily accessible for our residents living in the southern part of the county,” she said. “It’s a short distance from Exit 58 on the Garden State Parkway and also Route 9.

“The new dog park uses 4.5 acres at Freedom Fields County Park and has areas for both large and small dogs,” she said. “There will also be picnic tables available.”

Canines and their owners will be welcomed to the site starting at 8 a.m., June 1. The dog park closes at 7:30 p.m. daily.

Registration is required to access the county’s off-leash dog parks and dogs must be older than six months of age.

In order to receive an off-leash dog facility identification card, registration requirements include filling out an application, providing the dog’s original current license, and proof of current vaccinations. The annual fee is $5.

Patrons can register their dogs at the following Ocean County facilities: The County Connection, Ocean County Mall, 1201 Hooper Ave., Toms River, by appointment only, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday and noon to 5 p.m., Sundays; Ocean County Parks Administration Office, 1198 Bandon Road, Toms River, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday; Tip Seaman County Park, 120 Lakeside Dr., Tuckerton, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Wednesdays and Thursdays; Wells Mills County Park, 905 Wells Mills Road, Waretown, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays and Jakes Branch County Park, 1100 Double Trouble Road, Beachwood, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays.

People using the dog park need to carry their county issued dog park identification card to assure dogs using the facilities are licensed and are up to date with their vaccines.

“These regulations give the County the opportunity to know who the people are that are using these facilities,” Haines said. “It’s important that dogs using these off-leash dog parks can socialize well. It’s also important that this project allows dogs the freedom to run and play but also has the appropriate safeguards.

“We have 517 county canines registered to use our two other off-leash dog parks,” Haines said. “The county’s off-leash dog parks are very popular and we are happy to open this new one in Little Egg Harbor.”

Ocean County opened its first off leash dog park in May 2002 at the Ocean County Airpark off of Route 530 in Berkeley Township in response to dog owners who sought to have a place where their pets can run and play without infringing on the recreational experiences of the general public.

The off-leash dog park is a contained area where dog owners can allow their pets to run free and exercise off-leash. Attendants are at the county dog parks at various times throughout the day.

Haines noted that when the late Ocean County Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., who served as liaison to parks, saw the dramatic increase in the population of Ocean County had made open space for dog owners to let their dogs run free increasingly scarce it was time to create off-leash dog parks within the county’s regional park system.

“These facilities fulfill the needs of both the dog owner and the general public,” Haines said.

Ocean County’s second off-leash dog park opened in December 2004 on four-acres in the rear of Ocean County Park, Lakewood.

“All of these dog parks have been constructed so dogs can exercise and socialize safely,” Haines said.

Work on the dog park was performed by the staff of the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation. There is plenty of free parking on site. Jugs of water will be available. Dog owners should bring their own water bowls.

“I want to extend the appreciation of the Board to our staff at Parks and Recreation for developing this addition to our county parks,” said Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Gary Quinn. “This in-house effort will make a difference to our residents.”

For more information on registering to use the dog park, call 732-506-9090 or visit website www.oceancountyparks.org.

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