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A Decade of Fun and Still Going Strong with the First-Ever Bark for Your Park™ Winner

3 States, 1 Dog Park: A Bark for Your Park™ Story

The community of Huntington, West Virginia sits near the borders with Ohio and Kentucky. This tri-state location has always had plenty of passionate “dog people”, but until 2011, a much-desired dog park was simply not in the budget. When community leaders learned of the Bark for Your Park™ grant contest, they seized the opportunity, and we’re so glad they did! Ten years later, in 2021, the City of Huntington is celebrating 150 years since the city’s founding. We want to say happy anniversary, and thanks to our first-ever winners for inviting us to help bring a PetSafe® Dog Park to Huntington.

A Community Collaboration Adventure

Huntington’s PetSafe® Dog Park, located in beautiful Ritter Park, was the result of a “community collaboration adventure” according to those involved with the dog park’s creation. Representatives of the Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District (GHPRD) had long known the community could benefit from a dog park. When a local resident brought the Bark for Your Park™ contest to their attention in its inaugural year, they jumped into action! They worked together to complete and submit their Bark for Your Park™ application. A committee was formed to find a suitable location, and before long they had selected a rolling, partially wooded tract within existing Ritter Park. The GHPRD agreed that the costs of maintenance and upkeep for the dog park would be well worth the benefits to the community, if they could just get the budgetary boost needed to construct their dog park design.

Designing the Dream

The representatives of Huntington designed their dream dog park with pups and their people in mind. Maintaining the naturally wooded edges would provide ample shade. A paved, handicapped accessible trail would encircle the dog park. Benches and observation decks would offer spots where pet parents could watch their buddies play. Water fountains would provide refreshment on hot days. Secure double gates would separate dedicated areas for small dogs, large dogs, and even accommodations for dogs that are not as socialized or who need a “time-out” when play gets intense. It seems the community thought of everything when creating the blueprints for this amazing dog park.

After receiving the exciting news that Huntington had won a Bark for Your Park™ grant, the city held a groundbreaking ceremony on August 18, 2011 to recognize the launch of the dog park project. Special guests from PetSafe® were in attendance to share in the fun. Huntington’s local newspaper printed numerous articles about the dog park over the course of construction. In addition to the Bark for Your Park™ grant, generous supporters and soon-to-be patrons of the new dog park contributed over $100,000 to make Huntington’s dog park dream come true. Today, a large plaque shaped like a dog bone near the park entrance recognizes these generous donors.

The Big Day

On June 16, 2012, the Grand Opening of Huntington’s PetSafe® Dog Park was celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony. With a live band, a silent auction, and local vendors, fun was had by all. Canine attendees and their human companions even got to participate in contests like “Owner-Pooch Lookalike”, “Best-Dressed Dog”, “Cutest Dog”, and “So Ugly, I’m Adorable!” The party was a big hit, and a fitting tribute to the excitement and lasting enjoyment the dog park continues to bring to the city.

At PetSafe®, we are overjoyed to have played a part in this dog park story. As our first-ever Bark for Your Park™ winner, Huntington helped us launch a tradition of helping communities become safer, happier, more welcoming places for pets and their people through establishment and support of PetSafe® Dog Parks around the country.

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