Happy dogs, and owners, too

WAILUA — Jennifer Lovelett said she has seen a vast improvement in the cleanliness and maintenance of Happy Dog Playground.

“We’re on a positive note,” she said. “They’re consistently mowing, which is helpful, and things have been peaceful and maintained.”

Lovelett, who takes her dogs to the playground everyday, said there are examples throughout the park where it’s been well maintained.

“The maintenance man trims trees, clears the trash and cleans the parking lot. He does a lot of things the other park people didn’t,” she said.

In July, the dog park at the base of Sleeping Giant was a point of contention between users and the County of Kauai because a county worker in charge of mowing the grass raised health concerns. He said leftover dog poop was flying into his face.

When Happy Dog Playground, a county park, opened two and a half years ago, it was agreed that the dog owners would clean up after their pets.

But, over the years, the department has had trouble enforcing it, leaving a select group of volunteers to tackle the task.

On July 13, the conflict was taken to the public works and parks and recreation committee meeting, where about a dozen users of the park testified.

Residents say they are happy with how Lenny Rapozo, director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, took their testimony seriously.

“He was very honest and frank,” Lovelett said.

Two months after the meeting, the dog park is looking better than ever, Terri Leimel said.

“Ever since that meeting, someone’s out everyday Tuesday, mowing the lawn. It looks really good,” she said.

Cleaning up after the dogs is a community effort, Leimel said.

“Everyone works together to make sure it’s being cleaned up, even if it isn’t their dog’s mess,” she said.

Michael Peyatt agreed.

“Everyone is being more proactive,” he said.

The Wailua Homesteads residents say the dog park has countless benefits.

“I depend on the dog park,” said Leimel. “It’s an asset to the area because there’s not a lot of areas to take your dog.”

On Tuesday, Leimel was at Happy Dog Playground with her chocolate lab, Shealey.

Peyatt said the park gives his dogs, Pongo and Manaka, a sense of freedom.

“They don’t have to be on a leash; they just love it,” he said. “It’s also a place for them to socialize.”

If it wasn’t for the dog park, Lovelett said her family would never have been able to adopt their hound, Lilikoi, from Kauai Humane Society.

“She’s a 70-pound hound, and my yard is a size of a postage stamp,” she said. “There’s more space for her here.”

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