Fort Wayne Parks switches to new dog park entry system

The Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department switched Thursday to using a new proximity card system for members using its Pawster Park Pooch Playground and Camp Canine dog parks. (By Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)

To improve safety for dog park users and their pets, the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department switched Thursday to a new proximity-card system at entrances to Pawster Park Pooch Playground in Foster Park West and Camp Canine in Johnny Appleseed Park.

“We were getting dogs in there where we don’t know if they are vaccinated or are up to date (on vaccinations),” said Jason Smith, the parks department’s manager of athletics and aquatics.

Last year, people registered about 600 dogs to use the dog parks, Smith said.

Prior to Thursday, dog park users all had the same entry code to punch into the gate lock system to get into the dog parks, Smith said.

At the time people purchase their pet’s dog park membership, they also must present paperwork from a licensed veterinarian verifying the dog had been vaccinated for rabies, distemper and parvovirus, and that the vaccinations are up to date.

At the dog parks, however, people who hadn’t registered their dogs often showed up and asked others for the gate entry code, Smith said. Some people also publicized the code on social media.

That created a risk that unvaccinated dogs could bite other dogs or people inside the dog park.

A year ago, parks department staff started looking for other gate entry systems, and they settled on the proximity-card system in mid-summer of last year, Smith said. People hold the proximity card near a sensor to open the gate to the dog parks.

Parks department officials decided to delay implementing the new system until this month because people use the dog parks less in winter and many would be renewing their annual dog park memberships in January, Smith said.

Some dog park members still may use their proximity card to swipe in people and dogs who aren’t members, Smith acknowledged. But parks officials believe that will happen a lot less often than when everyone had the same access code to punch in to enter the park.

The parks department also can deactivate the access card of any dog park member who doesn’t follow the rules, Smith said.

Currently, dog park membership provides only one proximity card per household, he said. The parks department is considering whether to allow two proximity cards per household to make it easier for couples or families.

“We want to be as customer friendly as we can,” Smith said.

GOOD DOG!

The Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department provides this information about how to use its dog parks, plus much more, at www.fortwayneparks.org. Under to “Facilities” on the navigation bar, use the drop-down menu to click on “Dog Parks”:

• Membership is $40 per year per dog. Half-season passes are available July 1 for $20 per dog.

• You can buy dog park memberships for a maximum of three dogs per household.

• To register a dog for membership, go to the Fort Wayne Parks office 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays at 705 E. State Blvd. For each dog, you must provide paperwork from a licensed veterinarian verifying the dog has been vaccinated for rabies, distemper and parvovirus, and that the vaccinations are up to date.

• Your dog’s Pooch Pass and vaccination tags must be visible on the dog at all times while in the dog park.

• Dog park hours are 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. The maximum number of dogs safely accommodated in either park at the same time is 50 dogs.

• People are asked to limit their visit to one hour during peak usage times.

Click here for more dog park rules and regulations.

For questions, call 427-6000.

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