By Jim Tedford, Director of Animal Affairs and Alliances
If someone told you there is a place other than a gym where you can get healthier and happier, you would get there as quickly as possible, right? In many communities across our country, there are such places—places where blood pressure and body weight are reduced and where smiles and friendly people abound. These magical places are called dog parks!
Having a safe place to play with your best friend and mix and mingle with other dog lovers can be more than just a dream. It seems dog parks are springing up everywhere, and PetSafe is making sure of it! We’re preparing for the final stages of our second annual Bark For Your Park competition, where one lucky city will be awarded $100,000 to build a PetSafe dog park. This year is even bigger and better! Two additional $25,000 prizes will be awarded to the runner up and the Bark From Your Heart award winner, which will be the city with the highest percentage of votes to its population.
Fresh air and exercise are good for the spirit and good for the body. Dogs, like most people, rarely get enough of either. Most are confined to homes or small yards. They do not get enough opportunities to stretch their legs. A community dog park gives dogs and their human friends a place to spend quality time together strengthening the bond between them. Dog parks promote active, healthier lifestyles for both dogs and people.
Dog parks also present fringe benefits to communities. For example, dog park visitors serve as a sort of neighborhood watch. The mere presence of people and dogs can reduce the rate of crime in the surrounding area. And, by requiring all dogs using a park to be licensed, local animal control agencies have a little help in enforcing regulations. Giving dogs a legal place to run and play off-leash makes it less likely that pet owners will let their dogs run loose in public places where it is not allowed.
Dog parks are even great for a community’s homeless pet population! Offering a safe place to play and socialize encourages pet adoptions. Picture that poor, petless human with his nose pressed against the fence watching all the “cool” kids having fun with their pets – great motivation to go to the nearest shelter to adopt a new best friend and save a life.
If your community already has one or more dog parks, get out there and use them! Think of them as holistic healing centers where you will get a little dose of medicine that will make you feel better almost immediately. If your community needs a dog park, get involved in this grassroots effort to get one built.
You can help the 15 finalists by voting in the PetSafe Bark For Your Park competition twice a day from now until August 1st. All they need to win one of three cash prizes is enthusiasm and support from their communities (including the online community), and someone has to be the head cheerleader getting everyone else motivated and excited! So, get out there and Bark For Your Park!
Jim Tedford serves as PetSafe’s Director of Animal Affairs and Alliances. Working on the front line of animal welfare for over 20 years, Jim has served as CEO for organizations in New York, Louisiana and Tennessee. Prior to joining PetSafe, Jim provided marketing and fundraising services to animal welfare organizations nationwide. Jim holds a degree in animal science from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Jim and his wife Ann share their “empty nest” in the Smoky Mountains with adopted dogs Bodie, Sam, and Lila and a formerly homeless macaw, Gipper.