PROVIDENCE— The Mountain View Veterinary Health Center hosted its third annual companion animal health fair to raise funds for Cache Humane Society’s public dog park Saturday afternoon, just hours after volunteers broke ground to start construction of the facility.
There is a need for a dog park in Cache Valley, said Brenda Smith, director of the Cache Humane Society. Many owners, especially those in apartments, are limited where they can take their dog for exercise.
“There really is no dog park in Cache Valley,” Smith said.
Krisann Johnson, Mountain View’s marketing specialist, said behavioral problems found in dogs can be related to a need for exercise, which a dog park provides opportunities for.
“People come in with problems with digging, biting and pulling on the leash,” Johnson said. “What all those dogs really need is some way to release that energy.”
Pet owners and their companions – mostly canine – wandered the tables outside the health center’s Providence location and learned about the services the center offers. They also asked advice of Alyson Brown, the only certified professional dog trainer in Cache Valley.
Brown said the main types of problems people come to her with are management related.
“My major focus and goal is keeping dogs with their families,” Brown said. “For a lot of people the issues vary anywhere from house training, to jumping up on guests, to actual aggression towards dogs or animals, to occasionally people.”
Lucy, a border collie whippet mix puppy that came to live with Brown last month, sat with Brown at the fair to assist in demonstrations. Using a long plastic stick with a ball attached and a clicker, Brown could direct Lucy by having her touch her nose to the end.
The targeting stick and clicker are part of the positive training techniques that became popular in dog training in the latter part of the last century, Brown said.
“There has been a moving away from punishing dogs for what they do wrong to more of doing things right and what works best for them,” Brown said.
Brown said she became involved in dog training while researching for positive ways to train her own dogs. As the only certified professional dog trainer for miles around, she said she has clients travel from Preston to Salt Lake City seeking help.
In addition to offering signups for Brown’s classes, educational booths staffed by health center members were busy teaching pet owners about the basics of vaccines and services provided by the center such as X-rays and spay/neutering. Johnson – who was one of the organizers for the event – said a new booth this year is the Well Pet Plans. The plans are a monthly fee paid by pet owners to cover cost of things like vaccines and exams.
Money raised from the health fair went towards the new dog park, which Smith said would hopefully be ready for use at the end of the summer. As part of a three stage construction process, Smith said the park will eventually house a new building for the humane society, and enough space to house Cache Valley animals in the event of a large scale emergency when an evacuation is necessary.