Are they barking? Council blows £15,000 on adventure playground for dogs

By Andrew Levy

Fitness for owner and pet: Jill Oxborrow, 50, with her two-year-old Black Labrador Ripley at the dog agility area in Bishop's Stortford

Dogs usually have to make do with fetching a stick or walkies to keep off the pooch pounds.

But pets at this £15,000 play park – the first of its kind in Britain – enjoy Crufts-style obstacles to keep in shape. There is everything from ramps and tunnels to hurdles, poles and paw-shaped hoops to negotiate.

The 30ft square area at Southern Country Park in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, opened this week – coinciding with a People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals report warning that half of UK dogs will be obese within five years.

But critics complain the park is a waste of money. Emma Boon, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘The local council must have gone barking mad to spend thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ cash on this canine attraction.

'Of course dog owners should exercise their pets as part of looking after them but a run around the park should be sufficient.

Ripley takes a breather as Mrs Oxborrow tells him to sit (above) before he scrampers up and over one of the obstacles (below)

‘It is not the job of the council to provide facilities for owners to play with their dogs and it certainly isn’t a priority at a time when money is tight and the council should be making spending cuts.’

Jogger Rachel Bennett, 34, who lives in the area, said: ‘It seems a bit barmy. What’s wrong with throwing a ball or a stick? Those don’t need maintenance and won’t be vandalised.’

Diana Attwood, 41, from nearby Stansted Mountfitchet, Hertfordshire, who takes her weimaraner, Cindy, to agility competitions, said: ‘It’s awful to think local residents are being bullied and robbed for their council tax for it to be wasted in such a stupid way.’

Tory-run East Herts District Council paid £7,000 for the equipment. Installation costs and officers’ time more than doubled this.

Councillor Linda Haysey said: ‘The area has been designed to help dogs and their owners keep fit and active. It’s a wonderful way for dog owners to socialise.’

Kennel Club secretary Caroline Kisko said: ‘Recent reports about pet obesity are testament to the fact that, sadly, dogs don’t always get the exercise that they need.’

source: dailymail