EATON — The City of Eaton opened its brand new Bark Park at Water Works Park on Saturday, July 14. The grand opening kicked off with the YWCA Dayton’s signature Preble County fundraiser Purple Paws: Preble Pets Against Domestic Violence. The funds raised from the event benefited Preble County’s only domestic violence shelter and 24/7 crisis hotline.
The day’s events started at 11 a.m. with the Purple Paws event. For a donation of $10, attendees were granted VIP access to the new Bark Park. At 11:30 a.m., the Pet Showcase began, and owners had the opportunity to enter their pets for a donation of $5 per pet.
At 12:30 p.m., the Bark Park officially opened to the public with an official ribbon cutting. Following, the Purple Paws pet parade marched around Water Works Park.
When asked about the collaboration between the City of Eaton and the YWCA, City Manager Brad Collins said, “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 combined event turned out to be a huge success, according to Collins. Representatives from YWCA Dayton said the event had more than 150 attendees and close to three dozen dogs.
Sponsors were a huge part of making this event a success.
The park itself was funded through sponsorships from Royal Canin, Eagle Fence, and Lawn Plus. It did end up costing the city a few thousands dollars, according to Collins, due to labor, dirt work, tree removal, and other similar expenses.
Purple Paws: Preble Pets Against Domestic Violence raised $4,950 from sponsors prior to the event. Their sponsors included: Community Action Partnership, Henny Penny, Kettering Health Network, Royal Canin, Town and Country Veterinary Clinic, Woodforest National Bank, Preble County Mental Health and Recovery Board, Lawn Plus, Camden Veterinary Services, Timken Steel, Creature Comforts, Parker Hannifin, Ryan’s Flooring, Koorsen Fire & Security, Vancrest of Eaton, Samaritan Behavioral Health Inc., The Duchess and the Greyhound, and ACE Hardware.
Not only were there food vendors, but Tufts of Fluff Pet Salon set up a grooming station and Preble County Art Association made pet prints. There was also a raffle with more than 11 prizes anyone could enter.
According to event organizers, including sponsorships, the Purple Paws event raised approximately $6,000 to benefit the domestic violence shelter.
Audrey Starr, Director of Marketing and Communications at YWCA Dayton, explained, “Today we have our third annual Purple Paws. This is our signature fundraiser that YWCA Dayton has for its Preble County office. We have the only domestic violence shelters in both Montgomery and Preble County.
“We’ve been operating the Preble County DV shelter since 2004, so 14 years. The proceeds from today benefit that shelter’s programs. We chose the Purple Paws event for several reasons. One of those reasons is that there a clear link between abuse of animals and domestic abuse.
“We also know a lot of the women we serve also feel like they have to leave their pets at home when they go into shelter. They are torn between caring for themselves and caring for their pets. We work with veterinarians and community agencies to provide concurrent shelter for the women we serve and their pets.
“So both the humans we serve and their furry friends are getting out of that abusive situation and into a safe housing situation.”
She added, the event continues to grow throughout the years. Normally, nonprofit events break even in three years, but Purple Paws has broken even every single year it has been held. This year, the group more than doubled the sponsor support.
“Thank you to the community for stepping up and recognizing that domestic violence is a community issue and is not just something that happens behind closed doors,” she added. “It affects all of us and trickles down. It takes all of us to step up and make sure that those resources are available.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH