SEATTLE (AP) A park known for open drug use and prostitution has gone to the dogs for a cleanup.
Golden retrievers, poodles, pugs and Pomeranians chased balls, caught Frisbees and ran around like crazy at the opening of the smallest and newest of the city's nine off-leash areas at Regrade Park in Belltown, north of the downtown core.
More than 200 dog owners, pets, city officials and members of Citizens for Off-Leash Areas were welcomed by area residents who believe the increase in legitimate traffic will lower the attraction to less savory denizens at the one-third acre park at Third Avenue and Bell Street.
The city has tried for years to chase hookers and addicts out of the mostly concrete park, which is enclosed by a heavy black fence with latched gates, city council president Jan Drago told the crowd.
''This dog park will make this neighborhood safer,'' she said.
''I believe this will change not only the park, but this neighborhood, and make it a safer place for all people to come and enjoy themselves whether they have dogs or not.''
Dog owners who live hear the park proposed the off-leash area more than a year ago, and the off-leash designation is good for an 18-month test run. After that officials will decide whether to keep letting dogs run free.
A leading advocate of the change, Adrianne Young, who lives two blocks from the park, celebrated with her French bulldog, Officer.
''This has never really been a comfortable place to walk by,'' Young said.
Information from: The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com
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