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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

VIDEO: National Grant to Help ODU Researcher Understand Why Dog Parks Work

By Noell Saunders

For 13 years, Ed Gómez has turned a personal interest about dogs and people into an exciting research opportunity.

Gómez, a professor of Park, Recreation and Tourism Studies (PRTS) at Old Dominion University, recently received a grant from The Stanton Foundation to further develop his research on what makes dog parks successful/unsuccessful and how they benefit both dogs and people.

"Dog parks can reduce crime and keep neighborhoods clean. One of the biggest benefits for the dog, is exercise and being able to socialize, which makes them less aggressive," he said. Watch the video to learn more about dog park benefits.

Gómez, along with his colleague Lindsay Usher, and ODU student researchers in PRTS are conducting a citywide online study for Norfolk residents to see what they like about dog parks. So far, more than 1,000 people have responded to the study. Students are also doing onsite interviews and data collection while Gómez and Usher are conducting focus groups. The information will be used to help others establish dog parks in their communities throughout the country.

Darrell R. Crittendon, director of recreation, parks and open space for the City of Norfolk, said further insight into users' experiences at the city's 12 dog parks will be valuable.

"We have the second highest number of dog parks per capita in the nation, after Seattle, which shows citizens in Norfolk have a vested interest in quality of life for not only themselves but their dogs as well."

The study will wrap up at the end of June.

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