EDITORIAL: Where Dogs Belong and Don't Belong
Sunday's front page, by coincidence, included both good news and bad news for those seeking to set tracts aside for dogs and their human handlers.
The first story, already touched on briefly in Sunday's Birdies and Bogeys, involved Saturday's opening of the long-awaited "Pooch Parks in the Pines," where masters can set their dogs free to run about a large fenced enclosure to their heart's content.
Such a facility already existed -- sort of -- in the form of Martin Park behind Walmart on U.S. 15-501. But that piece of land, fine as far as it goes, is unfenced and therefore suitable only for owners who feel a degree of certainty that their unleashed pooches can be depended on not to light out for the next county.
The new park, across from the Moore County Airport on N.C. 22, is really two parks -- one for small dogs, one for large, both securely fenced off to discourage out-of-control wandering by adventuresome canines. The big enclosure covers three acres, the smaller one just a half-acre.
Just remember that the Pooch Park is open only to members, who must have a pass code to open the gate. And dogs brought into the park must be up to date on their shots.
Right Activity, Wrong Place
The other story on Sunday's front page involved a considerably more serious matter: the Moore County Planning Board's unanimous recommendation that the county deny a rezoning request by a local company that wants to open a training facility for bomb-sniffing dogs on a 95-acre site between Cameron and Carthage.
Though that location would seem to qualify as the middle of nowhere for city dwellers, the Board of Commissioners would have to have a pretty good reason to overturn a unanimous recommendation from the Planning Board. It's not that bomb-sniffing dogs aren't important in the war on terror -- they are -- but the planners clearly feel strongly that the tract of land in question doesn't look like the right place to be doing it.
They apparently became convinced that there is more than a simple case of NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard) involved here -- that the loud outcry against the proposal provides some indication of how many neighbors would be affected by the plan put forth by the local military contracting firm K2 Solutions.
Wherever conducted, the training exercises would involve not only the noise and bother created by the presence of hundreds of barking Labrador retrievers but also the likelihood of frequent ground-shaking explosions. Why real blasts? Because, as the company explains, it is necessary for the trainers to expose the student dogs to them so they can become better accustomed to the stressful sounds and sights involved.
We wish K2 Solutions luck in finding a more acceptable site. The promoters of the facility are now pinning new hopes on Aberdeen, whose officials are considering letting them build in a heavy industrial zone south of N.C. Highway 211.
Clearly, the more dogs that can be trained to sniff out lethal improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the fewer individual service members will have to be exposed to this dangerous duty. IEDs are currently the greatest single cause of combat deaths among coalition troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and anything that offers hope of reducing that toll should be welcomed.
Just as clearly, the county thinks there has to be better and more remote places than the proposed location to conduct such training without disrupting the lives of so many neighbors.
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