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Thistle infestation closes Abbotsford dog park

Thistle has run rampant through Gladwin Park’s off-leash dog area, prompting the city to ask residents to stay out. - Tyler Olsen
Thistle has run rampant through Gladwin Park’s off-leash dog area, prompting the city to ask residents to stay out.
— image credit: Tyler Olsen

The off-leash dog area of Gladwin Park has been temporarily closed due to a thistle infestation that can harm people and animals.

A sign at the site states thistle has spread in the off-leash area. The city is advising people to stay out while it implements a control program to deal with the common weed, which sprung up after the field lay fallow for a period.

A city representative says the dog park should be ready for use the first week of September.

The dog area is also undergoing an upgrade, including installation of a fence and gates.

Kendell De Menech, who runs a hydrotherapy program for dogs called K9H20, has been part of fundraising efforts to improve that off-leash dog area as well as create a new dog park in a section of Clearbrook Park.

She said after bringing her dog to Gladwin Park, contracted a severe infection, as the thistle can cause an allergic reaction. Her dog has been on heavy medication and De Menech is still waiting to find out if he needs surgery.

“This stuff is nasty. You cannot walk in the field in sandals without getting stung.”

De Menech said she was “absolutely impressed” when she called the city and they immediately came up with a plan to get rid of the thistle, adding an employee even called to ask how her dog was.

“I’m just thrilled. It’s been just great working with these guys.”

But the thistle is a temporary setback for Abbotsford’s dog-lovers.

De Menech said work is underway on both the Gladwin upgrades and the Clearbrook dog park. Soon the sites will be complete with fences, gates, access to water and shelter.

De Menech spearheaded fundraising efforts last year with Liza Whiteside, owner of the Bosley’s Pet Food Plus on Whatcom Road, and raised more than $13,000 for the parks.

The project was originally set only to improve the Gladwin Park location, but later expanded to include the new off-leash area on Clearbrook.

De Menech is thrilled with the results.

“It’s phenomenal. It’s just a beautiful park.”

She said while the city would have undertaken the work eventually, the fundraising efforts kickstarted the project. She said the city has done all the labour and will provide maintenance.

A ceremony to open the new Clearbrook Park will likely be held in late September.

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