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HRM Opens Service Dog Exercise Facility
(Thursday, July 30, 2009) - The Service Dogs of Halifax now have a place to safely exercise in a unique, accessible off-leash dog run at the corner of Rainnie Drive and Cogswell Street, adjacent to Centennial Pool.
“It is important that hard-working service dogs get a chance to exercise and have some off-leash down time, like any other dog. The creation of this small exercise facility will provide a safe, place for me to take my guide dog without the worry of losing track of her, like I might in a big park. It’s also easy to get here by bus,” said Helen McFadyen, Chair of HRM’s Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities.
An estimated 75-80 registered, professionally- trained service dogs provide assistance to people with disabilities in the Halifax Regional Municipality. They include; guide dogs for the blind, ‘hearing’ dogs for the Deaf (which alert to bells, knocking, and alarms), seizure alert dogs for people with epilepsy, and ‘special skills’ dogs trained to perform specific tasks for a person according to their disability or medical condition.
While there are other types of working animals in common use, such as dogs for drug, arson, and explosive detection by RCMP and police, or for Search and Rescue or guarding work, those dogs have access to other venues for exercise. The new Service Dog Exercise Facility offers a centrally-located, fenced area where service dogs can safely be off-leash and still remain close to their handlers.
HRM responded to a request brought forward by the Advisory Committee for a designated exercise area for service dogs.
“HRM has responded to a request for a designated exercise area for service dogs that is safe for the dogs and accessible to their handlers,” said. Blair Blakney, Capital Projects Parks Coordinator. “Preliminary research leads us to believe that this may be one of the first dog runs in North America designed and designated specifically for use by service dogs.”
The Service Dog Exercise Run will be open year-round, daily beginning early next week once signs are in place.
Helen McFadyen, Chair of HRM’s Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities, 454-4834
Shaune MacKinlay, Manager, Public Affairs, Halifax Regional Municipality, 490-6531