Dog Park Check - Vance Harmon Park, August 2018

Dog Park Check – Vance Harmon Park

By Jim Young, Manager – Bellalago Veterinary Hospital

We have some results from our visit to Poinciana’s newest dog park at Vance Harmon Park.  We didn’t find too many samples.  Maybe the park is so new most people aren’t aware it’s there?  We didn’t know!  Thanks to those of you who let us know about this beautiful, new dog park!

We also looked around for possible safety issues and found a few things we were concerned about.

Vance Harmon Dog Park

Fecal Float – nothing present

Direct – nothing present


FENCING:  The fencing here is a lower fence than what one typically finds at most dog parks.  Unfortunately, it’s low enough that some dogs may be able to jump over it – especially big dogs.  Dogs can often become over stimulated when they see other dogs and jumping over that fence seems entirely possible!  Of course, we strongly recommend watching your dog at all times, but if your dog likes to jump, watch them even more carefully!

ENTRANCE GATES:  If you’ve been to the park, then this concern is probably not a surprise.  The entrance gates use a rather difficult system to open and close.  In order to open one side (all that is needed for non-handicap accessible entry), both sides have to be opened.  It requires the lifting of a metal post which has already started to bind making that quite difficult.  When we arrived, we found three of the four gates ajar.  We attempted to close them before leaving, but found that one would not seat itself correctly.  I even attempted to bang it back down using the palm of my hand, but failed.  Perhaps with more time and finesse we would have managed to get it closed?  I don’t know, but I am pretty sure most pet owners wouldn’t do more than what I did.  Remember that they’d also have to do it twice – once on the way in and once on the way out!  This issue results in the park effectively not having a double-doored entry and greatly increases the chances of dogs escaping.  We have serious concerns about the way this was set up.  Clearly in use the system is not working the way it was intended.  There must be a better way to secure the gates while allowing handicap access!

DOGGIE DRINKING FOUNTAINS:  These are some of the nicest doggie drinking fountains we’ve seen!  Their design prevents the drains from being easily plugged so contaminated water can easily flow away.  There are also two of them on both sides of the park!  Wow! 

Unlike the other area parks, there are no bowls at this park holding contaminated water.  We hope that continues!  Such bowls can easily hold water borne diseases like Leptospirosis and Coccidia.  Should these bowls appear, we strongly suggest not allowing your pet to drink from them.  Draining them in to the grass and turning them over would prevent dogs from sneaking drinks.  Do not empty them in to the drinking fountain as it may contaminate it.

Leptospirosis is spread by wild animals and can easily be passed to dogs.  A simple vaccine can prevent it!  Coccidia is also spread by wild animals, but there is no vaccine for it.  When dogs are exposed to Coccidia, it can cause intestinal issues including diarrhea.  The only way to prevent Coccidia is to prevent your dog from being exposed to it.  Use clean bowls and fresh drinking water.  We have FREE collapsible water bowls available at the hospital if you’d like one!  We’d also be happy to answer any questions you may have about the Leptospirosis vaccine and/or Coccidia treatment.

With the heat, dogs will be looking for sources of water.  Make sure you provide them with a clean source.  Again, we have FREE collapsible water bowls available at the hospital!

HEARTWORMS:  Mosquitos are likely present and are present just about everywhere in Florida.  Mosquitos carry heartworms which are VERY present in the local area.  We have a lot of patients who are heartworm positive which can have a significant negative impact on quality of life and life expectancy!  Heartworms can be easily prevented with products like HeartGard, Trifexis, Sentinel Spectrum, or ProHeart 6.  For more information about Heartworm prevention, give us a call!

Prevention is the best strategy to keep your pet happy and healthy! Give us a call so we can ensure your pet's well-being before they head to the park!

METHODOLOGY: We ran 3 samples randomly selected from the specimens we collected. With each of the randomly selected samples, we did a fecal float checking for parasites. We also randomly selected one sample for a direct screen for bacteria and other microscopic issues.


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