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HRM Opens Service Dog Exercise Facility

The Service Dogs of Halifax now have a place to safely exercise in a unique, accessible off-leash dog run at the corner of Rainnie Drive and Cogswell Street, adjacent to Centennial Pool.

"HRM (Halifax Regional Municipality) has responded to a request for a designated exercise area for service dogs that is safe for the dogs and accessible to their handlers," said Mayor Peter Kelly. "Preliminary research leads us to believe that this may be one of the first dog runs in North America designed and designated specifically for use by service dogs."

An estimated 75-80 registered, professionally- trained service dogs provide assistance to the disabled in the Halifax Regional Municipality. They include guide dogs for the blind, “hearing” dogs for the deaf (which alert to bells, knocking and alarms), seizure alert dogs for people with epilepsy, and “special skills” dogs trained to perform specific tasks for a person according to their disability or medical condition.

While there are other types of working animals in common use, such as dogs for drug, arson and explosive detection by RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and police, or for Search and Rescue or guarding work, those dogs have access to other venues for exercise. The new Service Dog Exercise Facility offers a centrally located, fenced area where service dogs can safely be off-leash and still remain close to their handlers.

"It is important that hard-working service dogs get a chance to exercise and have some off-leash down time, like any other dog. The creation of this small exercise facility will provide a safe place for me to take my guide dog without the worry of losing track of her, like I might in a big park. It's also easy to get here by bus," said Helen McFadyen, chair of HRM's Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities.

The Service Dog Exercise Run will be open year-round, daily from dawn to dusk.

Reprinted from the City of Halifax’s website, www.halifax.ca, July 27, 2009.