Lopez Farmer’s Market needs canine community awareness

The Lopez Farmer’s Market is on its way, opening for the season on Saturday May 16 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Farmers, locals, and visitors alike will welcome the familiar sights of fresh produce and local arts and crafts as well as the community camaraderie that the venue promotes. Along with the merry-making, however, there is a concern that needs to be addressed regarding the presence of dogs at the market.

Nancy Bingham, Farmer’s Market board member, said, “Last year, we had enough dog-related reports having to do with health and safety concerns that we realized we needed to address these issues before something serious happened. Let’s face it, poop is just not conducive to good business.”

The majority of the dogs at the market and their owners are well behaved, but some dog owners did not always pick up their pets’ waste. There were leash-tangling episodes and reports of pooches urinating on market stalls. Worse, several dog fights broke out near small children.

In response to these reports the market board voted to have a “no dogs at the market” policy for 2009. But as this decision became known there was quite a public outcry among community members and some market members who wanted to keep dogs at the market. In response to these concerns the board decided to bring the issue up to a vote of the entire market membership.

The results of the vote were so close that the Farmers Market Board has now decided to use 2009 “as a probationary year for dogs being allowed into the market,” Bingham said.

How You Can Help

The Farmers Market Board needs the community’s help to assist in working with visitors if market-goers see concerns (for example, waste not handled properly, or a child who is not able to control a dog on a leash).

The Farmers Market Board will provide a handout to people who come to the market with dogs that details their responsibilities.

“We need people who are concerned about this issue to speak up if they see an accident about to happen, or if someone needs help handling their pet. Over the course of this season, we will assess the dog issue, review any incidents that come up, and see if we need to continue or if we need to stop dogs in the market.”

The farmer’s market is an open and relaxed area to mingle and shop, “but,” Bingham concluded, “if we do vote to have dogs around, then we have to find a way to help people be more responsible for their dogs. And we as a community need to be more active in offering our help.”