EATON — The City of Eaton’s very own Bark Park will be opening on Saturday, July 14, at Water Works Park. The day’s events will begin at 11 a.m. with Dayton-Preble County Office’s YWCA Purple Paws: Preble Pets Against Domestic Violence event, where for a donation of $10 per human, residents can gain VIP access to the Bark Park. The park will open free to the public at noon.
According to City Manager Brad Collins, the idea of bringing a dog park to the city was first discussed several years prior, when Dave Kirsch was Mayor. They took a park survey, and they received feedback asking for a dog park. Since then, citizens have vocalized that desire to Eaton City Council.
It was decided the best location for the park would be Water Works Park, as there was room available.
“We visited a few dog parks and looked at signs and information. Through the process, we’ve had people come forward. We had Royal Canin, Eagle Fence, and Lawn Plus come forward during the planning process and said they would like to contribute towards the dog park. They helped sponsor to make this happen,” Collins explained.
“We’ll have a few thousand dollars from city funds. Of course, there was labor and dead tree removal. Dirt work and we prepped the parking lot area and some of that. I’m guessing over half of the cost was covered by donations and sponsorships. The park budget is very tight, so every dollar helps.”
The City of Eaton decided to collaborate with the YWCA and combine the two events. The YWCA has an annual fundraiser for the Preble County domestic violence shelter, where they host a pet event — including contests and a pet parade – to bring awareness to domestic violence in the county and the help animals can bring to the healing process for victims.
All funds from the entry donations will benefit Preble County’s only domestic violence shelter and 24/7 crisis hotline.
YWCA Preble County Manager Courtney Griffith explained, “We have the fundraiser to bring awareness to domestic violence in the county and the link between violence against humans and animals. Abusers of animals are five times more likely to harm humans. Nearly half of all DV victims who stay in violent households do so because they are afraid for their animals. We are raising awareness for all lives affected by DV. The YWCA provides the only DV shelter and crisis hotline in Preble County, serving more than 100 women and children annually.”
The Purple Paws event will be held before the official Bark Park grand opening. Registration for Purple Paws begins at the City of Eaton Bark Park at 10:30 a.m. There will be a donation fee of $10 per person, with children five and under for free. Pets can be registered for the Pet Showcase for a $5 donation per pet.
During the Pet Showcase, prizes will be awarded for best trick, best personality, “twinning” (pet and owner look-a-likes), and best in show. Then, there will be a pet parade through the park, with event ambassador Shadow (Eaton Police Department’s K9 dog).
There will also be food vendors, activities, and music. Attendees to Purple Paws get exclusive access to the park in advance of its ribbon cutting and grand opening later in the day.
Online registration is available in advance at www.ywcadayton.org/ppawsregistration and in person starting at 10:30 a.m. Attendees can register online until Friday, July 13 and receive a free event t-shirt. T-shirts can be bought at the event for $15.
After noon, the Bark Park opens to the public for free. There will be a grand opening ribbon cutting at 12:30 p.m. The free event also features a K9 Demonstration by Shadow and his handler.
Collins added, “We’ve worked with the YWCA in the past and, again, through the planning process and speaking with them, we thought it would be nice to add more publicity to the opening of the park. We can help each other out. They’re helping organize the pet contest and having food vendors.
“By hosting it together I think we will draw more attention to the opening and to get the word out. The community is what helped drive this project, so we know there is interest from them. We’ve received very good feedback so far, even the corporate partners is a good sign. I think this is a very positive project for the city.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH