NAPLES, Italy — It didn’t take long for the most recent Naval Support Activity Naples community meeting to go to the dogs.

In fact, it started and ended with dogs, as the meeting was specifically set up for people to air their opinions about the possibility of allowing man’s best friend to live in the Gricignano Support Site housing area.

The base commander, Capt. Dave Frederick, said he hadn’t decided whether to allow them on the support site, but is leaning toward keeping the no-dog policy in place.

He referred to a recent housing survey in which 60 percent of residents were against allowing dogs and about 40 percent were for it.

“I am in favor of holding the policy as it is,” he told about 150 on- and off-base residents attending the nearly two-hour meeting.

About two dozen people spoke during the meeting, with about half for and half against having dogs on Gricignano.

Those in favor said the animals helped relieve stress and should be valued as an “American” tradition of dog ownership. Most said they felt that their dogs are family members, not just pets.

Amber Hansen, who with her husband owns an English bulldog, recommended size or weight limits for pets if they’re allowed on base or, at minimum, the creation of an on-base dog run for those wanting somewhere to take their pets.

Many dog owners who live in either government-leased apartments or elsewhere on the economy said they don’t have a safe area to walk their dogs, citing bad drivers, an abundance of trash and stray or feral dogs as hazards to both their pets and themselves.

Dogs are allowed at the Carney Park recreation facility, but it’s about a 45-minute drive from the support site.

Most who opposed allowing dogs in base housing said they were actually dog lovers.

Lt. j.g. Richard Wales left his dog with family in the United States before moving to Italy because he knew the support site housing didn’t allow them.

“We do not like the fact of not having our dog,” he said. “But … we had to give up some freedom [to live on the support site] and that freedom was giving up my dog.”

Others said dogs should be banned because some owners are irresponsible, don’t clean up pet waste, and let the dogs bark. Pet enforcement issues would be a problem, Frederick said, because since Sept. 11, 2001, Navy security forces are no longer assigned to police on-base communities. However, security forces members have caught some infractions.

The base security officer, Lt. Cmdr. Perry Suter, said people already aren’t following the existing dog regulation allowing the animals to be brought only to and from the base veterinarian clinic.

He said security has logged more than 35 incidents since the clinic opened last July where people have taken their dogs to other places on base.

Base veterinarian Dr. (Army Capt.) Jacque Parker also opposed dogs living in support site apartments.

Frederick didn’t give a date on when a final decision will be made, but said he would be briefing the Navy Region Europe commander, Rear Adm. Stanley Bozin, on the issue in the next few days.

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