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Potsdam Humane Society seeks leg up for dog park

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POTSDAM — Madrid Avenue may soon be home to a puppy playground.

The Potsdam Humane Society started working with residents to create a dog park near the society’s shelter at 17 Madrid Ave.

A dog park gives owners without a lot of land a place for their pets to run without a leash and socialize with other canines.

“It’s something that all dogs need, and something that has real benefit to the animals,” said Carrie H. Tuttle, president of the Potsdam Humane Society board.

Deborah P. Massell, a dog owner and Crane School of Music professor, helped rally interest in the community. Her goal of seeing a dog park in Potsdam started last year, when she adopted her dog from the Humane Society only to discover that her new pet did not get the proper amount of exercise from walks alone.

“She needed to have more exercise than I could give her on a leash,” she said.

She was inspired when, while visiting friends and family in Burlington, Vt., she saw the dog parks that are popular there.

“The dream became planted in my mind that Potsdam might want to have such a place,” she said.

Plans to create a similar park in Canton repeatedly have been stymied by the search for a suitable location, but that would not be a problem in Potsdam. The Humane Society’s animal shelter sits on six acres of mostly unused land, which would be home for the park.

“We are so lucky that the Humane Society is able to support this,” Ms. Massell said.

Ms. Tuttle said 15 people came to an open meeting on Wednesday to discuss the idea and start working on some early plans.

“Right now we are just kind of outlining conceptually some of the things we need to do to move this forward,” she said.

The park will be built in phases. The first phase would cover clearing and landscaping the property, fencing, signs and a water spigot, and would cost about $50,000. The society plans to pay for half of the cost through grants, and gather the other $25,000 in private donations.

There is no set timetable yet because the project is still in its early planning stages, according to Ms. Tuttle.

There are still plenty of unanswered questions, such as deciding who would be responsible for maintenance and cleanup at the park. The Humane Society will also need some way to assure that the dogs playing at the site have all received their vaccinations to avoid spreading diseases.

For the moment, the society’s focus is on informing the community about the proposal and soliciting the funds needed to make it a reality.

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