Damage saddens dog owners
Black Diamond: Park users request council to make their memorial official
Wednesday, Sep 20, 2017 06:00 am
Frustrated dog owners are looking to the Town of Black Diamond to establish an official memorial after pictures of their pets were removed from a tree in the dog park earlier this summer.
Members of the Friends of Black Diamond Dog Park Facebook site spoke out after photographs on a memorial tree they established at the town’s dog park earlier this summer were torn down.
Maura Cassidy expressed her concerns to Black Diamond Town council at its Sept. 6 meeting and asked that it be officially established as a memorial tree to help prevent further removal of the photographs.
“It’s absolutely devastating,” said Cassidy, who said photos went missing on two occasions.
Cassidy posted the only photo she had of her collies Bailey and Shania in a plastic sheet, only to find them removed the next day.
“It looked like they were ripped from the tree,” she said, adding she searched the area and garbage cans but could not find them.
The memorial tree is one of many initiatives the Friends of the Black Diamond Dog Park have made since starting the group three months ago, including painting benches and pulling noxious weeds, said Cassidy.
They selected a dead tree by the footbridge in the park and attached a wooden plaque, which still remains, naming the site as a memorial for dogs and their owners who passed away.
“It’s a way of honouring dogs and people who have come down here and made such a positive impact on the place,” Cassidy said. “It’s a way of letting them know that we miss them terribly.”
When the photographs went missing the first time, Cassidy said the group waited a few days before posting more. When they were removed again, the group stopped posting pictures and decided to approach Town council, she said.
Coun. Ruth Goodwin suggested council have administration look at options for a memorial site in the off leash park and bring suggestions back to council at its Oct. 4 meeting. Her motion was supported unanimously.
“I know there is a strong support for a memorial site for man’s and woman’s best friend,” Goodwin said after the meeting. “When you are out walking your dog every single day you get to know the animals before you get to know the people. It’s like that four-legged handshake to get to know other people in the community. It breaks the ice.”
Goodwin said a memorial site is a great way to instill respect, gratitude and understanding about pets that had used the park.
“I think it’s a very kind thing to do,” she said. “You’re supporting your community members in a hard time. I get that.”
Black Diamond Peace Officer Jim Berry said he received a complaint from a resident at the end of August about the pictures being posted on the tree.
Berry said the complainant, who he can’t identify, wanted the off leash park to stay as natural as possible and didn’t feel it was necessary to have photographs posted on the tree.
Berry said posting the pet pictures broke no laws.
“There are bylaws about posting things on posts and telephone poles, but this is a tree in an off leash park,” he said. “The tree is dead so there is no precedence-setting incident or anything we would have dealt with in the past along this kind of scenario.”
Okotokian Cheryl Bachelder said she would love to see a permanent memorial in the dog park, which she frequents about four times a week.
“I think it’s a great idea,” she said. “It’s just nice because you spend a lot of time there and it’s such a beautiful park.”
Bachelder said she was saddened when a photocopied picture of her golden retriever Amber was removed from the tree. She was initially apprehensive about posting the memorial to her dog, which suffered from cancer and had to be put down at age 13, after pictures went missing from the tree the first time.
“I put it up and the next day I went out there and they were all ripped down,” she said. “It’s very sad.”