PetSafe, a Knoxville, Tenn.-based pet products company, has awarded the Forest Preserve District a $10,000 grant to be used for planned improvements to the Hammel Woods Dog Park in Shorewood.
The grant is part of the company's 2017 Bark for Your Park program, which awards funds to build, enhance or maintain off-leash dog parks around the country.
"We are very appreciative of this grant, and we applaud the company for its efforts to create pet-friendly communities," said Ralph Schultz, the Forest Preserve's chief operating officer.
The money will help pay for the Forest Preserve's new 2.3-acre small-dog enclosure that will be built adjacent to the original 8.5-acre Hammel Woods Dog Park, which opened in 2002 and was the District's first fenced, free-run dog park. The Forest Preserve now has five dog parks and a sixth is in the works. Hammel Woods is the only Forest Preserve dog park without a separate enclosure for dogs weighing 35 pounds or less.
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Schultz said a lot wasn't know about the best way to create free-run areas for canines 15-plus years ago when the Hammel Woods Dog Park was being planned and built.
"However, all of our subsequent dog parks have featured separate enclosures for large and small dogs, which is a better configuration," he said. "And soon, Hammel Woods Dog Park patrons will have the same choice."
PetSafe received 215 Bark for Your Park grant applications in 2017, and the Forest Preserve was one of only 25 award recipients. The company has helped fund 64 off-leash dog parks in 40 states since 2011.
"The goal of Bark for Your Park has always been to help communities become better places to live for people and their pets," said Willie Wallace, chief executive officer of Radio Systems Corp., parent company of PetSafe.
Wallace said dog parks help canines get the proper exercise and socialization they need to reduce behavioral issues, and the parks are a much sought after amenity when people are choosing a new place to live.
In addition to adding a small-dog enclosure to the Hammel Woods Dog Park, the Forest Preserve will build a shade shelter at the site, and a drinking fountain – for both people and pups – will be installed in the preserve for trail, campground and dog park visitors.
The Hammel Woods project is scheduled to begin in September and conclude in July 2018, however weather and other issues could affect the timeline.
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