When your fields and playgrounds are fouled by fowls, who are you going to call?
In an effort to control the waste left on Belmont’s fields and common areas by Canada geese, the most common waterfowl species in North America, the Belmont Health Department will be establishing a new, more formalized “off-leash” registration program for residents and their pet pooches, according to members of the Belmont Board of Health at an informational meeting held last week and in subsequent interviews.
A past attempt to register dogs to run on the tows playing fields was less organized or controlled, resulting in an ineffective scheme. The existing “Off-Leash Program for Dogs on Belmont Athletic Fields” run by the Recreation Department is $40 per resident dog for 2014.
“[O]ver the recent years we have found residents made little or no attempts to actually have their dogs involved in chasing geese,” Belmont’s Health Director Stefan Russakow told the Belmontonian Thursday, April 17.
Under this new initiative, the town’s Recreation Department in conjunction with Belmont’s Animal Control Officer John Maguranis, will create a registration program that will allow dogs to be “off leash” outside their owner’s property.
Under the proposed guidelines (Article 8) for animals that will be voted on by Town Meeting in May, no dogs will be allowed “to run free” without permission from the Board of Health.
One important part of the new program will be determining if those dogs “are good citizens,” said Board Vice Chair Dr. David Alper, that they can be controlled by their owners while on the fields and playgrounds.
According to Russakow, his department will not be issuing ‘licenses’ for off-leash activities on the fields, but creating a laminated card similar to the former “goose buster” card of the past indicating the owner has paid the fee and their pet was evaluated by Maguranis.
The new program “will be looking at activities for dog owners and their animals to increase animal and human health through exercise in the future,” said Russakow.
In fact, Russakow said as a result of the expanded nature of the initiative, his department will not be using the term “goose busters.”
“Any secondary benefit like keeping geese off the fields is a plus,” he said.