Alabaster warns against kids playing in dog splash pad

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Alabaster Parks and Recreation officials are encouraging children to not play in the water pad at the city’s new Beneful Dream Dog Park, as it could cause health problems for humans.

Alabaster Parks and Recreation Department Director Tim Hamm said health hazards can arise when children and dogs share the same play areas, especially when children are barefoot.

The water in the splash pad is not on a recirculating loop, but can still be a prime location for germs and parasites, Hamm said.

“People will track things onto the splash pad with their feet, and there are some hazards involved when you are walking around barefoot in an area that has dog feces,” Hamm said. “There are worms that can enter your skin through your feet.”

Hamm said the city has not had a “big issue” with children playing in the splash pad since the park opened in July, but said he does encourage residents to follow the rules posted at the park.

“It is an issue that we would like people to be more aware of,” Hamm said. “We have actually had people call and say ‘Can you make this person get their dog out of the water so my kid can play?’”

Hamm said Alabaster is looking at the possibility of funding and building a splash pad for humans at one of the city’s parks.

Dog park rules state “the off-leash area is for dogs, their handlers and those accompanying them. No other use allowed or permitted,” and prohibit children younger than 6 from entering the off-leash area unless they are under adult supervision and sitting under the park’s awning.

Hamm said young children are not allowed in the off-leash area in an effort to keep dogs from becoming overly excited and to protect kids from possible injury.

“Almost all the dogs out there are well-behaved and non-aggressive. But a large dog could injure a toddler by accident just by playing,” Hamm said. “It’s just not a good area to have kids and pets playing together.”

For a full list of dog park rules, visit Cityofalabaster.com/beneful-dream-dog-park.