Starting a Dog Park Movement in Your Community
Did you know that dogs who exercise, socialize and play on a regular basis are generally happier and better behaved than those who don’t? A dog park offers a safe place for all these experiences, but these parks don’t exist in all areas. The number of families seeking modern training and care to keep their furry friends happy and healthy continues to grow, and interest in dog parks is growing along with it. If you want to learn how to bring a dog park to your town or neighborhood, the process takes time, but the end result, including wagging tails and a stronger community, is worth it.
Step 1: Find Your Pack
Spread the word about your dog park idea by reaching out in person or social media to everyone you know and to various media outlets, such as local newspapers. Create a dedicated email address and social media pages for your dog park project. Then try to get some local community activists and leaders to support your cause, even if they don’t own dogs.
Once you’ve assembled a group of likeminded individuals, work together to come up with a list of desired features for the park, such as fences and shady areas, in addition to a mission statement and a proposed set of rules for park usage. Hold a meeting in a public location, and be prepared for some debate on a few of these issues.
Step 2: Establish Your Territory
Finding an appropriate potential location for a park is of course your next step in the process. If you know any dog-loving community members with large properties, ask if they would be willing to donate even a half acre to the community for a dog park. A designated dog run doesn’t need to be a huge one to be fun! Your city or county could have undeveloped land that could be purchased. Fundraising might be necessary to cover the cost of some land. This is another good reason to put together a large, diverse group of supporters. People with connections make a big difference when it comes to finding land for a park or doing what it takes to get it funded.
Step 3: Get Official
Getting public approval for the park is an important part, and it’s critical to stay on top of this process. Ideally, you’d want to recruit an experienced supporter to navigate the public approval process. If that doesn’t work, make an appointment with your local government’s parks department (or comparable alternative) to get advice and to get support for the idea.
Today, most local government officials recognize the value of a dog park, but if they don’t, have prepare a pitch that details the community benefits of a safe, fenced area where dogs can play and exercise. Don’t forget to include the impact to the community’s bottom line: Dog parks have been shown to raise property values and make communities more livable, which a total win for the town or neighborhood as a whole!
Step 4: Set a Budget and Earn Your Treats
Once you’ve got official support for the project, get down to the nitty gritty of what the park will cost. Work with your park committee members to establish a potential budget for the total park cost, including upkeep.
Next up, you’ll need to get some public funding. You can also request donations from local businesses and organize fundraiser events with community members. Just be sure to follow all the official IRS rules on fundraising, which can be different depending on where you live.
Step 5: Start Digging and Playing
Once you have the community on board, some land to make it happen, official approval and sufficient funding, you’re ready to build the park. The city will more than likely take over at this point, or you may have to make arrangements with local contractors. Some contractors may donate their services in exchange for official recognition on the park’s sign. It’s a good idea to remain focused on the project until after opening day to ensure any potential problems are handled efficiently and the park remains a valuable community resource for years to come.
Even though the park may belong to the community at this point, you’ll still feel a sense of personal pride at the new dog park that you worked hard to make a reality!