Change could be coming to the metro's most popular dog park. The Paw Park at Lake Hefner is privately owned and operated, but the volunteers who run it now need your help to keep it free.
In rain, shine, snow or ice, volunteers are at the park cleaning, refilling and collecting donations, but the bone box is more often than not empty.
“Our operating costs are between $8,000-$12,000 a year,” says Paw Park president Charles Allen. “Currently, we’re getting less than $100 a month.”
The Paw Park Association leases this land from the city and has to pay for insurance and upkeep. For more than 15 years, they have been making it work, allowing dogs to romp and play worry-free and cost-free. That freedom is much appreciated by owners like Anika Leljedal and her puppy Laxus.
“It’s great because he can learn to get along with other dogs, especially at this young of an age,” she says.
Leljedal says she would pay a fee if she has to, but hopes enough people can chip in to prevent that from happening.
“I think it’s important,” she says, “because they’ll be able to play with dogs freely and some people can’t always afford to have a membership fee.”
Allen says this option is a last resort, as he has noticing dog owners becoming less engaged as the years pass by.
“They bring their dogs, set their dogs free and I hate to say it, spend more time looking down at their cell phones and not even interacting with their pets,” he says.
If a members only club is enacted, card holders will have to prove they can follow the rules and be responsible and engaged with their furry friends.
Allen says, “It’s sustainable income that we’re looking for so that the park can continue for another 5, 10, 15 years.”
The association is expecting to make their decision within the next two to three months. To donate, drop some money in the boxes at the park or click here.