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North Suburban News

Stoneham Resident Leads the Pack for a Local Dog Park

Apr 25, 2019 07:59AM ● By Lisa Redmond

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STONEHAM – Sandy Lotti never had a dog while growing up in Stoneham, but now that this Franklin Street resident has two rescue dogs that need to run, play and socialize with other dogs she realized that Stoneham lacked something crucial for her dogs’ well-being – a dog park.

While Stoneham offers many amenities for adults and children, Lotti’s two dogs – Thea and Cocoa, both Lab mixes – along with more than 1,200 other licensed canines in Stoneham don’t have a fenced dog park to call their own. 

 “I feel the need to be a voice for all these dogs,’’ Lotti told North Suburban News. “I could go to dog parks in Melrose or Wakefield, but why shouldn’t we have a dog park in Stoneham?’’ she asked.

So Lotti gathered a pack of Stoneham dog lovers to create the Friends of Supporting Stoneham Dog Park Facebook page, along with a petition, in the hope of generating support and momentum for a Stoneham dog park. This group would provide the fundraising, maintenance and oversight for the park.

While Sheepfold Dog Park at the Middlesex Fells in Stoneham is considered, by some, to be the town’s dog park, the site is run by the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation, not the town. It is an off-leash, non-fenced area. Dog parks in other area towns, such as Wakefield, Medford, Woburn and Melrose are enclosed by fencing.

Lotti said Sheepfold is used by the general public from all over to walk their dogs – sometimes aggressive dogs - off leash, she said. “I don’t consider it a safe place’’ for her dogs or herself, she said.

As someone who has physical issues due to several back surgeries, Lotti said she wants a safe place where she can sit and let her canine companions run and play in a fenced in area. Lotti and other dog lovers had been using a fenced in area at the Beacon Street fields to run their dogs until March when a sign was posted banning dogs from the property.

Lotti and a core group of Stoneham dog owners are working with the town’s Open Space and Recreation Advisory Committee to try to find a piece of town-owned land, about 150 yards or so, that can be fenced in and used as a dog park, she said. 

Once the Stoneham Dog Park organization is formalized and a site is chosen for the dog park, the group can apply for non-profit status and would be eligible for Stanton Foundation grants specifically awarded for the purpose of creating dog parks.

When asked why this dog park is some important to her, Lotti said, “There is something in me…I have a passion and desire to do this.’’  Every time she looks at her two dogs, she is reminded why she is doing this.

After not having a dog for many years, the Lotti family adopted Thea in February of 2017 from Sweet Paws Rescue in Essex after Thea was found abandoned  in Mississippi. Fearing that Thea needed her own canine companion, seven months ago the family went to Sweep Paws Rescue again to adopt Cocoa, who was on the side of a road in Alabama.

“The way I look at it is that for every dog that is adopted it makes room for another dog to be rescued,’’ she said.

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