WASHINGTON COUNTY – Animal welfare organizations, pet owners and municipalities are combining their efforts to build dog parks for the local community.
Because Animals Matter and the City of Hurricane have been collaborating in the effort to build a dog park in Hurricane since 2009. The city council approved development of the park in early 2010 but lent limited resources to its construction and maintenance aside from the property, leaving BAM to foot the bill. The park became operational as a use-at-your-own-risk facility in 2011, with only a rudimentary chain-link fence. The city has since approved approximately $8,000 in funding to plant grass, trees, install a bench and do cleanup work.
Still, BAM’s goal is to improve upon the existing project.
“Hurricane is in desperate need of a park that can be used year-round. The current site is at the mercy of the elements, with no shade or relief from the heat of the summer and cold of the winter,” BAM President September Smith said. “Hurricane has a large population of dog owners but insufficient resources for them and their pets.”
BAM is currently entered in the PetSafe Bark for Your Park contest, in which cities from across the nation compete to win the funds to build a dog park. Voting ends Friday, and each individual can cast two votes per day. If Hurricane is chosen as one of the 15 finalist cities, BAM and Hurricane citizens will create and submit a video displaying the community’s support for the dog park. The grand prize winner will be awarded $100,000, and four additional finalists will receive $25,000 each.
Smith said that she is feeling very optimistic about BAM’s chances of winning, but this project that would benefit many local pet owners can’t happen without the support of Hurricane and its residents.
“The city would like to provide service to its citizens that they feel would be beneficial,” Hurricane City Manager Clark Fawcett said. “The city supports the dog park and has shown that by their participation in providing the property and allocating some funds for the development.”
Ivins No-Kill Animal Supporters is leading the charge to build a dog park serving the citizens of Santa Clara and Ivins. Currently, Santa Clara does not have a designated recreation area for dogs and Ivins has a small temporary dog park that is little more than a fenced grass enclosure.
“It’s often said that a bored dog is a bad dog, so giving the community a place for dogs and their owners to be active together will encourage better dog behavior, plus make for healthier dogs and healthier owners,” INKAS Secretary Tracey Welsh said. “If the cities can develop an interlocal agreement to build and care for the park, it has great potential of being a mutually beneficial amenity for the citizens of both communities.”
Through fundraisers and private donations, INKAS will contribute a one-time donation of $5,000 if Santa Clara and Ivins can reach an agreement to build and maintain the park, Welsh said. The proposed location is near Archie Gubler Park in Santa Clara; the total cost has yet to be determined.
In early May, the INKAS board of directors met with both city councils to discuss the project.
“After the meeting, Santa Clara City Council asked INKAS to gather a little more information and visit with the Ivins City Council before any decisions will be made,” Santa Clara City Manager Ed Dickie said.
“The council was troubled by the fact that the proposed dog park in Santa Clara is just temporary and that Santa Clara could take it back for other uses at any time,” Ivins City Manager Dale Coulam said. “Therefore, staff has been given permission and direction to look at the costs and locations of developing a permanent dog park in Ivins. The council does not want to make a final decision on the proposed project until alternatives in Ivins have been considered.”
Since these council meetings took place, INKAS, Santa Clara and Ivins have been working together to find a project plan that will benefit all, along with each community’s citizens.
Both Smith and Welsh highlighted the benefits these proposed dog parks will offer to the four-and two-legged residents of their respective communities.
“Dog parks are prime locations for dogs to socialize, as they allow dogs to interact off leash but within a safe neutral territory. With additional stimulation, such as obstacles and agility equipment, dog parks can assist owners in training their dogs to be better canine citizens, and even work as a meeting place for obedience training classes,” Smith said. “Also, BAM and other rescue organizations often utilize dog parks as a location to introduce potential adoptive owners to dogs in foster care. This offers adoptive owners good views of both how the dogs interact with other dogs and if the dogs’s, creating better connections between people and pets.”
“Dog parks are beneficial social outlets for both pets and their owners,” Welsh said. “The availability of a dog park is now starting to be a consideration for people who look to move into a community. Encourage your city council members to vote ‘yes’ to support a dog park.”
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