A year after it was proposed, a plan to have a fenced-in dog park built in Lawrence hasn't gone anywhere, but another local park looks to be getting an upgrade.
A fundraising campaign is underway to get lights built at the Mutt Run dog park near Clinton Lake, which would allow canines and their owners to safely utilize the space after nightfall.
However, more than a year after a local dog owner proposed a fenced-in dog park at Peterson Road and North Iowa Street, Lawrence looks to be no closer to getting one. Maureen Bernhagen submitted the proposal to the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Board in July 2012. She also said she collected the signatures of 750 people who also wanted to see a dog park in town.
Bernhagen hoped to have a fenced-in dog park constructed at Peterson Park because she said the one at Clinton Park is intimidating for small dogs like hers and is located inconveniently for many people. Lawrence also has an off-leash dog area at Riverfront Park north of the city limits.
Ernie Shaw, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, said that even if the funding came through and a fenced-in dog park became a priority, the city would have to involve people in the neighborhood to make sure it's something they would want.
"I think, somewhere down the line, it would be nice to have a dog park somewhere in town, but where is the best spot? That's still to be determined," Shaw said.
Amber Nickel, owner of Pawsh Wash in Lawrence and a local advocate for four-legged creatures, says getting a dog park that could accommodate smaller dogs "is on my list of things to accomplish before I die."
The current two parks are "pretty much designed for the big, get-after-it, go-nuts dogs," Nickel said. "There are little guys who need to get out and socialize too and don't need to be trampled on by the other ones. You get a small dog in the middle of a pack and it can get dangerous."
One person whose dog enjoys the park by Clinton Lake is John Buttimer, a 31-year-old taxi dispatcher from Lawrence. But by the time he and his wife get off work, eat dinner and get their Great Pyrenees mix to the Mutt Run, the sun is usually setting. "We have a pretty light-colored dog. She goes more than 30 feet and you can't see her anymore," Buttimer said.
After talking with other dog owners, as well as the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department, Buttimer started a fundraiser to purchase lights for the park. He's almost to his goal of $700, which would purchase six lights. The Park and Recreation Department has agreed to install the lights and provide the poles.
The fundraising campaign ends Oct. 31. Buttimer said the lights will go up "as soon as we get the funding." To donate, visit the "Help light up the dog park!" fundraising page at indiegogo.com or call Buttimer at 863-651-2924. Buttimer said any extra money raised beyond the goal of $700 and the small percentage the website charges will be donated to local animal-related charities.