Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

April 2017

Grants Available to Boost Dog Parks

By Dave Ramont

Maybe your community is going to the dogs. The recent National Pet Owners Survey, conducted by the American Pet Products Association, tells us that the United States has over 54 million dog-owning households. And not surprisingly, off-leash dog parks have expanded by nearly 90 percent since 2007. And now, PetSafe Brand is promoting their Bark for Your Park grant-giving program, which helps communities build, improve and maintain off-leash dog parks. PetSafe has funded more than 50 parks across the United States through the program since 2011.

Tracy Mulder, marketing manager for PetSafe Brand, said that since launching the program, they've witnessed entire communities uniting to build their dream dog park and work together toward a common goal. "For us, the program is all about finding those enthusiastic communities that encourage responsible pet ownership with the desire to develop more dog-friendly spaces across the nation."

Indeed, dog parks provide excellent opportunities for dogs to socialize and exercise, which are two major factors in reducing behavior issues in canines. And it's been shown that dog parks help reduce the number of pets euthanized for behavioral reasons, as well as increasing pet adoption numbers.

PetSafe Brand develops pet behavioral, containment and lifestyle product solutions. And now, like last year, their grant program will award 25 communities a total of $275,000 in grants. This includes five New Park Awards valued at $25,000 each; 10 Park Makeover Awards valued at $10,000 each; and 10 Park Enhancement Awards valued at $5,000 each. Communities and parks and recreation officials can submit a grant application at beginning on May 1 and running through June 30. An internal committee will review the applications, with PetSafe Brand announcing the chosen communities in September. A combination of funds, as well as commercial-grade dog park equipment will be awarded to grant recipients.

In 2016, the town of Friendswood, Texas, received one of the $25,000 New Park Awards. Their dog park project had been grounded for several years by a lack of funds, until a high school freshman named Caden Fischer took on developing the park for his Eagle Scout project. Through a variety of fundraisers, he helped raise $11,000, which was enough to make the Friendswood dog park a reality when combined with the PetSafe grant.

"The original plan for a small .75-acre dog park has grown into an almost two-acre dog park, complete with large and small dog spaces, agility equipment, a washing station, and splash pad, which is so much more than we could have ever dreamed of," according to Heather Whitty, recreation manager for the City of Friendswood.

PetSafe Brand is also launching National Dog Park Day on May 6, 2017, in conjunction with this year's Bark for Your Park grant-giving program. This annual event will encourage the gathering of communities and pet owners to celebrate their pets, learn about adoption, and meet and socialize with their neighbors. PetSafe will hold an event on May 6 in Knoxville, Tenn., to recognize National Dog Park Day.

More information on the Bark for Your Park grant program or getting involved with National Dog Park Day can be found at

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