T Q&A 

Sharon Boose formed a group of volunteers for the dog park at Reid Park, a group which she continues to coordinate. In 2002, there were a lot of problems at the Reid Park dog park. Gang members were turning their pit bulls loose; people were fighting with each other; and vandalism ran amuck. Sharon wanted the dog park to be a friendly place where she and others could take their dogs without fear. Boose approached Reid Park management and then-City Councilman Fred Ronstadt's office about developing a core of volunteers to oversee the dog park. Both were open to the idea. Five years later, she's still going strong, and so is the dog park. At 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1, the city will officially commemorate the new dog park, called Miko's Corner Playground. (Miko was a police dog that followed a suspected carjacker who jumped from an overpass. Miko was severely injured and had to be euthanized.) On hand will be city officials and members of the K-9 service unit.

Where does your drive come from to have the courage to speak out and find a solution for dog-park violence?

I'm the daughter of a former chief of police, and on May 5, 1977, I became the first woman in Pennsylvania to hold a chief-of-police position. For four years, I was the chief of police in the Dublin borough of Bucks County. I guess you could say that I wasn't going to stand for this nonsense of disobedience at the dog park.

As volunteer coordinator, how often do you go to the park, and what are your duties?

I try to go to the park three to five days a week. I take my dog, Athena. I also have meetings with officials like the sheriff's anti-cruelty task force, Pima Animal Care Center (PACC), Marsh Myers of the ... (Animal) Cruelty Task Force (of Southern Arizona) and some city officials. I try to keep everyone abreast of the problems. Seventy percent of the problems are caused by people.

How do you think the presence of volunteers at the dog park helps keep people in line?

The volunteers watch and make sure that everything is running smoothly. If someone has an aggressive dog, the volunteer asks them to leave. The volunteers can call the nearby police substation if they need help.

How does the new dog park differ from the old dog park?

Miko's Corner Playground will be grassy, not dusty. Currently, there is too much dust, and you can feel it in your lungs. Grass absorbs fecal matter and urine much better; plus, there's no mud. Water fountains will be available for the dogs; no more buckets of water to clean and refill. The new dog park will be divided, but people won't have the opportunity to go back and forth, so there won't be problems about not closing the gate. When one part of the park needs reseeding, the other part will be open. Miko's has a ramada, more trees and more shade, a permanent table and bench, and is closer to the public restroom. Miko's accommodates ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) with a cement sidewalk for cane and wheelchair use. The Tucson Police Department will be making periodic stops, and PACC will also be on the lookout. The dog park will be locked from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Now, too many people abandon their animals at the dog park, and we want to circumvent that bad practice. Also, the entrance to Miko's will be from Country Club Road; use the Rose Garden/DeMeester concert-place entrance.

How can people make the dog park a better place?

They should follow dog-park etiquette and use common sense. People should pay attention and not go into a huddle or talk on their cell phones. If dogs start humping or tormenting other dogs, people need to stop those negative behaviors. They also have to be diligent about picking up pet waste. The volunteers are not there to pick up your pet waste.

How many people volunteer, and how can someone who wants to volunteer find out about the opportunity?

There are about a dozen volunteers. If you think you want to volunteer, go to the dog park, and observe the people, the dogs and the volunteers. If you're still interested, talk to a volunteer who will be wearing a Reid Park K-9 Volunteer T-shirt, and you'll be contacted.


More by Karyn Zoldan


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