A fenced area where dogs can socialize safely unleashed can be incredibly beneficial to pups and their pack leaders, but unfortunately many people aren’t lucky enough to have one nearby.
Do you live in a community without a dog park? Well, why not change that? Here’s a guide to getting one started.
Find Like-Minded Pack Leaders
You can’t do it alone, so find some help. You want to locate people who are as passionate about the project as you are. You may be surprised how easy they are to find. After all, we all love our dogs! You can talk to friends and family, post a notice at local dog-related businesses, or even take out an ad in a local publication or post one online on a local message board.
Okay, now you have six to 10 people who want to help. Together, you’ll form a park association, drum up support, meet with city officials, make presentations, and eventually help set park policies. First you should meet to brainstorm your ideas and form a plan of action.
Write a Mission Statement
Why is this park needed? Make sure to focus on the benefits to residents, their dogs, as well as the community. Even non-dog owners will benefit from a local canine population that is better socialized and exercised more frequently since the pups will more likely to be well-behaved.
Find a Location
When considering sites, look at the surrounding area. How will the park affect its neighbors? Are there any nearby safety hazards? Once you’ve found a good spot, meet with the neighbors to hear their concerns. This gives you an opportunity to address them before taking it to city hall — or, if you run into too much opposition or an unexpected issue, you can find an alternate location.
Create a Budget
Do the legwork and determine the exact cost of making your dream a reality. Set-up costs can include grass, fencing, lighting, water fountains (for pups and humans), poop removal stations, seating for dog owners, and, of course, the labor involved. You’ll also face regular maintenance costs once the dog park is up and running, such as lawn care, garbage removal, water use, and electricity.
You may find that your city is excited and able to fully or partially fund the dog park. If you don’t receive immediate support from your city, you can come to them with other funding sources ready, since this shows the community’s commitment to the project and makes it easier for them to fit in the city’s bottom line. Consider gathering donations from the community, particularly to cover the initial costs, and you can also find local companies who would be willing to sponsor it, often in exchange for advertising in the park.
Get the Word Out
Plan a public meeting. Ask people to sign a petition or write a letter of support. Gather email addresses, so you can keep them up-to-date on progress and enlist their help again if you hit a road bump later. Take your campaign to the local media: TV stations, newspapers, and other publications, and don’t forget the power of social media. If you can get a little coverage, it can make a big difference for the amount of support you have from residents, local businesses, and your city.
Are you starting a campaign for a dog park in your area? We’d love to hear your story. Share it with us in the comments!