Dog parks are extremely popular in the Metroplex area, in Houston, and around San Antonio and Austin. But what about in Northeast Texas?
The closest dog park to Hopkins County is the Allen Dog Park, which is 70 miles away from Sulphur Springs, the county seat of Hopkins County. But this soon may change.
Though there are many parks in and around the city of Sulphur Springs, many in the city have been clamoring for a park specifically designed for their furry friends. These pleas reached the ears of Shane Shepard, director of community development for the city, and he decided to find some funding for a new dog park to be constructed within city limits. This led him to PetSafe and the Bark for Your Park contest.
“I got a couple phone calls from citizens who wanted a dog park, so I was looking for a grant. I found that Texarkana, Arkansas won last year, and that they had a grant. I started researching it, and that’s how they received their money is through this contest.”
PetSafe kicked off their third annual Bark for Your Park nationwide contest on May 1. The contest provides funding to cities to build local dog parks. The top 15 vote getters in the first round (which runs from now until May 31) advance to the next round. Then there are two more months of voting before a winner is announced on July 31. First place will receive $100,000 from PetSafe, and the next four cities will each get $25,000. According to Shepard, a dog park isn’t likely to happen with this prize money.
“Well without it we would probably not be able to do it at all. For $100,000 we could probably create the premiere dog park in East Texas and really be competitive with dog parks out in the Dallas area. For $25,000 we could still do a great dog park, but it would probably be a little bit smaller.”
Thanks to the effort of Shepard and several others, Sulphur Springs is now one of the “top dogs” in the contest, with just a few days left in the first round of voting. Lisa LeMole, one of the dog park campaign volunteers, shared on how the campaign has attempted to get the vote out.
“Well, of course we started networking right away with Facebook and just trying to get social media behind us, and Shane has put out some press releases for [the media], and [May 16 & 18] we had events on the square to get the vote out, you know to get people to come down and vote.”
There seems to be quite a lot of support for a dog park to be brought to Sulphur Springs, as both events had several people show up. Steven Peugh, whose dog Sadie is involved in the therapy dog program in Sulphur Springs, had some thoughts on what a dog park would mean for the city.
“Well I think it would mean a lot because there’s a lot of people who would be interested in coming and using the facility and I think it would be good for the town. I think it would just be a great asset to help here in Sulphur Springs.”
And the dog park has more than just public support. City Manager Mark Maxwell has approved the tentative site of the dog park, which would be placed somewhere within the already existing Buford Park, home to Kids Kingdom, the skate park, baseball fields, and the city pool. Attached in the slideshow are Maxwell’s letter of support for the project and the verification of land ownership.
Though they already have well over 1,500 votes on the official Bark for your Park website, Shepard says they need a major push of support before the May 31 deadline.
“We have to have many, many more votes. The first thing is to get into the finals, and then once we get into the finals, which I think that we’re heading that way pretty fast; once we get into the finals we just have to have more people vote online for the dog park in Sulphur Springs.”
To find out more about the Bark for Your Park contest and to vote online, click here.