From a towering, spotted Great Dane to a bejeweled poodle, more than 100 canines and their human companions took part Saturday in the first annual Ironbound Dog Walk, an event meant to remind owners about taking proper care of their animals -- especially cleaning up after them.
The walkers made their way Saturday morning from the Little League field on Chestnut Street to Independence Park near the center of the neighborhood. Afterwards, there was a raffle and a dog “fashion show” featuring canines wearing ballet costumes and even a few with painted toe nails.
Saturday’s event had a second purpose as well -- to advocate for the creation of a “dog park” in the Ironbound to serve the swelling number of four-legged friends within the densely populated neighborhood, said East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador.
“We’re beginning to realize the number of dog owners is increasing,” said Amador, who sponsored the event. “We need to be a little more proactive in meeting their needs.”
Most if not all the walkers Saturday signed a petition calling for the creation of a dog park at Independence or another of the ward’s parks.
In the last several years residents elsewhere in Essex County have successfully advocated for the creation of dog parks, or “off-leash” areas. Dog parks within larger park facilities generally consist of an enclosure where the animals can run free without disturbing other park patrons. The fenced-in areas resemble playgrounds for very young children.
There are dog facilities at three Essex County parks: at Watsessing in Bloomfield, Brookdale in Bloomfield and Montclair and at the South Mountain Reservation in Millburn and Maplewood.
Maintaining, improving and expanding the county’s parks have long been a priority for Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo. In an email, DiVincenzo said there are no plans currently to create a dog park in the Ironbound but he also said he would consider the possibility.
“At this time, we have not received a formal request about creating a dog park in the county’s parks that are located in Newark’s East Ward. However, it is something that could be considered in the future as we continue to ensure our parks continue to meet the changing needs of our residents,” he said.
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