Turlock decides to throw the dogs a bone at city park

TURLOCK -- Dogs may be dogs in Sunnyview Park.

The City Council unanimously approved turning half of the 10-acre South Berkeley Avenue park into an off-leash area where dogs can run without trespassing or traffic worries.

"We are all so excited," said Marlena Cardinal of Friends for Sophia's Dog Park, a nonprofit group that promotes off-leash spaces in Stanislaus County.

Cardinal, the city and former Mayor Brad Bates are working to raise the $40,000 required to put up fencing, doggie deposit stations, handicapped-accessible sidewalks and other amenities. If everything goes according to plan, the park could be ready by the first of the year, Cardinal said.

Some expressed concerns over the park's location.

"Obviously the city feels this will be the right location. I hope it's successful and I hope everyone proves me wrong," said Community Service Commissioner Gabriele Kinsella, who first brought the dog park idea forward almost two years ago.

Public Facilities Maintenance Manager Rick Harden, who's designing the park, said Sunnyview is as safe as any other park in the city.

Animal Services Supervisor Glena Jackson is starting a fund-raising effort through the city shelter.

"I've been waiting a long time for this to happen. We have a lot of ideas," she said.

A "pennies for pets" program throughout Turlock schools is just one idea, she said. Enlisting help from Turlock Police Department's K-9 unit is another.

Bee staff writer Michael R. Shea can be reached at mshea@modbee.com or 578-2391.