Pet parents issued trespassing summonses after leaving Norfolk dog park late

NORFOLK, Va. - Dog owners taking their pet to the Ghent Dog Park are leaving with more than just a tired dog -- they're leaving with a notice to appear in court.

The dog park at Stockley Gardens in the Ghent section of the city opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 7:30 p.m. Former dog park board member Adryan Clapp says it's the only park in the city that doesn't open at sunrise and close at sunset.

In the winter, Clapp says the hours aren't a problem. But in the summer, the 7:30 p.m. closing time has caused some issues.

High temperatures keep owners from bringing their dog to the park in the middle of the day, and with the sun staying out late, owners don't want to interrupt play time.

Norfolk Police say since June 28, four people have been written a summons for trespassing. Kevin Connelly, who says he was one of the four people, told News 3 he was leaving at exactly 7:30 p.m and was still ticketed.

Connelly's court date was Wednesday morning. He says the judge dismissed the charges for him and the other dog owners.

"The judge barely had me say anything because the case itself was so ridiculous to begin with," Connelly said.

The ticket hasn't stopped Connelly from coming to the dog park, but he says he is paying closer attention to the time now.

While some pet parents don't agree with the summonses, others we talked to Wednesday say since the park is in a neighborhood, the rules should be followed strictly. Clapp is just hoping to find some middle ground.

"It's frustrating to see this because no one takes their dog to the park to get a summons," Clapp said. "I understand 100% that the rules are being broken, but I don’t feel that this extreme of a response is necessary."

For more information about the Ghent Dog Park, visit their Facebook page.

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