South Philly: Is Columbus Square Dog Park a Perk or a Problem?

Jim McGinley enjoys a hot afternoon in the park with his dog Roscoe.

Although at first glance the dog park at Christopher Columbus Square at 12th and Reed streets seems appealing, underlying controversy has dogged the park since its establishment six years ago.

Jim McGinley enjoys a hot afternoon in the park with his dog Roscoe.

According to avid dog park visitor, Abby Campbell, the park used to consist mainly of trees and barren land, until four years ago when the City of Philadelphia decided to fence it in to provide a running ground for the community’s dogs. The park now allows for the animals to run freely and interact with each other.

The dog park is about 40 yards in length, with amenities even for dog owners. Many owners sit comfortably in the park’s benches, watching their dogs play and conversing with other visitors. The park consists mainly of gravel where the dogs run around, but also has tree stubs and other obstacles for the dogs to enjoy. Trees provide shade in some areas, and a fence separates it from the playground for children just a few feet away.

Black rubber at the bottom of the high fences keeps the gravel contained in the park. “It used to be a mess. The gravel would go right onto the sidewalks,” said Campbell, 29. “Then one day they fixed that problem and added all of these tree trunks for the dogs to climb on.”

A regular to the park, Sammy watches the children swinging a few yards away.

Formally known as the Passyunk Square Dog Park the place always so convenient.

“It took us years just to get them to provide water for the dogs,” said Campbell. “The fire department across the street used to bring us over buckets of water for our animals,” she said, “it wasn’t until recently that they put a hose in the park.”

Not only did it take years to have a hose installed for the dogs to drink water, there are also numerous dogfights and other controversies in the park. During the week of May 16, a young chihuahua puppy was mauled and killed by two pit bulls, according to park-goer Pete Comly, 39. “There are dog fights often in the park, they’re just like children,” said Comly, “if you’re not watching your dog properly something is going to happen.”

The park does more good than bad for the community, agrees almost all of the park goers. Christy Spinella, 23, brings her border collie Scout to the park everyday and enjoys just sitting watching her dog have fun.
A tired terrier relaxes after a game of fetch.

Many of the people who visit the park with their pets live in the neighborhood. “Having a dog park so close to my home adds property value to my house, “ said Comly, “I come here at least three times a day for my dog to run around.”

Although the park started out on rocky ground, it now provides a fun, safer atmosphere for pet owners and their dogs.

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