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Dogs & humans embrace new dog park
A dog and its owner enter the dog park at the Manteca Civic Center complex immediately west of the Manteca Senior Center. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Ken Fant wasn’t 100 percent sold on the idea of a dog park.
As Manteca’s director of Parks & Recreation Fant said he needs to be confident that spending tax dollars on projects are the right thing to do.
If he isn’t convinced that something is in the best interest of the community, Fant said he is obligated to make his concerns known to the decision makers on the City Council.
Fant researched dog parks and came up with three major reasons that organizations such as the American Kennel Club endorse dog parks as a sound investment of tax dollars for recreation.
The first two points were clear to Fant from the start.
uDog parks are a responsible way for dog owners to exercise their dogs off leash as opposed to letting them run off leash on bike paths, parks or sidewalks where they can suddenly dart into streets, terrorize people with an intense fear of dogs, or unexpectedly bite someone.
uDog parks promote responsible dog ownership by interacting with other dog owners and their dogs.
The third point took him awhile to warm up to: Dog parks provide an outlet for dogs as well as dog owners to socialize.
Now that the dog park located on the northwest corner of the Civic Center campus next to the Parks & Recreation Department has been open for two months, Fant said it is clear the dog park is as much a recreational activity for humans as it is for dogs.
“You will see dogs huddling and socializing in one area and their owners huddling and socializing in another,” Fant said of the dog park.
Fant talked about the city’s $235,000 dog park that includes two separate fenced in play areas — one for dogs under 25 pounds and one for dogs over 25 pounds — during Thursday’s meeting of the Manteca Noon Rotary at Ernie’s Rendezvous Room.
“Owners socialize talking about their dogs, politics, and what’s going on within the community,” Fant said.
He noted there’s an active Facebook group involving dog owners often set up play dates for their dogs through social media.
Finding activities for people to interconnect with others is one of the basic tenets of public parks and recreation programs. It is the driving force behind a lot of low-key and widely accepted programs such as senior centers.
He added that while many apartment dwellers without yards use the dog park which is the only city park where dogs can legally be off leash, a number of the regular users are people who have yards where their dogs can play.
Fant said the dog park is enjoying fairly strong use. He was recently sent a video depicting 30 dogs in the larger dog park that showed dogs having a blast.
The dog park — like most other city parks — is open from dawn to dusk. Given the three quarters of an acre site has mature trees the strategic placement of benches has helped make it a strong draw for humans to gather and converse.
Fant noted the dog park relies on users to “self-police” the rules. Fant said it is working thanks to peer pressure from other dog owners to make sure rules are followed including picking up after your own dogs.
Fant said 60 personalized bricks will be installed soon near the dog park entrance.
The Manteca Parks and Recreation Foundation still has 55 customized bricks for sale. One brick is $100 while a second brick is $80 that allows you to personalize them with a dog’s name or an appropriate message. All proceeds will go to securing amenities for the dog park.
Payment is by cash or check and is being accepted at the Parks and Recreation office at 252 Magnolia Avenue. There are a limited number of bricks available on a first-come, first-served basis until they are sold out.
Fant said that in addition to play features plus a drinking fountain for humans and a bowl drinking fountain for dogs as well as two trash receptacles and five dog waste stations the public works department donated several old fire hydrants.
Dog park rules
All dog bites must be reported to the Manteca Animal Shelter division.
What are prohibited outright is detailed on a sign at the entrance. Those items banned are:
choke, spike, chain, or pinch collars.
dog food and/or treats.
dogs that are either in heat, sick, or aggressive.
dog toys.
puppies under 4 months old.
food, drinks, smoking, and glass containers.
strollers, bicycles, and children’s toys.
The park rules include:
owners are required to pick up and dispose of their dog’s feces inside and outside the park.
use of the park is at owner’s own risk with owners being responsible for their dog’s actions. That includes any damage as well as injury illness to dogs or owners.
udogs must be leashed entering and exiting the park.
dogs must be under voice control of owner at all times.
maximum of two dogs per handler.
professional dog trainers are not permitted to use off-leash areas for business purposes without prior city approval.
dogs exhibiting aggressive behavior must immediately be removed by their owner.
dogs must be up-to-date on dog licenses and vaccinations with appropriate tag/licenses attached to collars at all times. Also, owners must be prepared to show proof of dog license and vaccinations.
uall dogs and children must be supervised by a responsible adult at all times.
equipment is for use of dogs only. No children are allowed on the equipment.
no digging. If your dog digs a hole, you must fill it.
No brushing or grooming of pets inside the park.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email