Berkeley's Ohlone Dog Park Among the Nation's 10 Best Dog Parks
Park honored with grant to improve access for dogs disabled by arthritis
BERKELEY, CALIF., May 1, 2006 — Ohlone Dog Park has been named one of the best off-leash play areas for dogs in the United States by Novartis Animal Health US, Inc., and Dog Fancy magazine. The top 10 dog parks were announced as part of the Steps to Play More initiative sponsored by Novartis. The program encourages more exercise and active playtime by dogs, especially those with osteoarthritis.
Deramaxx partnered with the editors of Dog Fancy to conduct the second-annual review of U.S. dog parks based on criteria ranging from safety considerations to owner-education resources. Dog parks are a growing part of neighborhood park and recreation facilities, with an estimated 700 nationwide and more being developed each year, The best parks offer more amenities than those designed for people, with showers, pools, mist cooling stations, double security gates and playgrounds.
Ohlone Dog Park has been recognized as the first dog park in the world. Located within the city's Ohlone Greenway, it was first established by the city of Berkeley as an experimental project in 1979. The park's steward, the non-profit Ohlone Dog Park Association (ohlonedogpark.org), has an ongoing partnership with the city to ensure its quality and historical significance are maintained.
"Many people — city workers, neighbors, volunteers, the City Council — make the park environment what it is," said Marc Pfenninger, president of the association. "In this diverse urban population we have dogs that can't play as hard as they once did. They will get additional help through this generous grant."
The park will receive a $2,500 grant from Novartis to augment accessibility for senior dogs and dogs that are disabled by the pain of arthritis — a key component of the company's Steps to Play More initiative. An estimated 10 million dogs suffer from canine osteoarthritis. Many more dogs are considered senior at 6 years and older and are at risk for developing arthritis.
"That makes accessibility at dog parks a concern for nearly half of the U.S. dog population," said Dr. Bernadine Cruz, a veterinarian at Laguna Hills Animal Hospital in Laguna Hills, Calif., who is leading the campaign to encourage more exercise and play for senior and arthritic dogs.
"As the most common form of chronic pain in dogs, arthritis sidelines dogs of all breeds and makes the boisterous play of other dogs dangerous," said Cruz. "Even with special modifications at parks, dog owners should talk to their veterinarian about controlling pain before expecting a potentially arthritic dog to be safe and have fun playing and running at the park again."