Finance Fur-Friendly Spaces

annual payment from a landfill located in the area, and the county executive was willing to pledge those non-tax dollars towards the dog parks. Other counties or municipalities may consider using tax dollars to build a dog park and then fund its operation and maintenance through user fees.

Crucial Moments

The most important and largest source of funding was selling the naming rights, which covered approximately 60 percent of the total construction costs. To raise awareness and generate small-dollar, broad-based fundraising, the county executive’s $25,000 pledge match was instrumental, as it gave the community an initial goal to work towards. We easily raised double that amount in two years. Without the match, construction would have been another year down the road.

The Friends volunteer group was vital from the start, helping organize the fundraising, educate the public on the benefits of dog parks, and establish rules and fees to ensure sustainability. Volunteers also staffed booths at community events to spread the word and solicit donations, but while there was a lot of interest in the cause, they had little success securing donations at those venues. The Friends continue to provide essential support—supervising the dog parks, answering questions from new visitors, participating in “Tour of Doody” clean-ups, and generally being dog park ambassadors.

Common Bonds

In the end, the success of the dog parks comes down to dog owners and their love for dogs. The idea of a place where dogs are free to run, jump, sniff, wrestle, and otherwise socialize is very appealing, and finding financial support and active involvement from county dog owners was easy. Dog parks also connect dog owners. A park provides a great atmosphere for owners to relax and talk about their furry friends. In our few years of operation, we boast that three marriages have resulted from couples meeting while exercising their dogs.

The KenoshaCountyDogPark website can be found at http://dogparks.kenoshacounty.org. To view the Facebook page, visit www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Kenosha-WI/Kenosha-County-Dog-Parks/292774818134?ref=ts.

Jonathan Rudie is the General Manager of Park Operations for the Kenosha County Division of Parks. Reach him at Jonathan.rudie@kenoshacounty.org.

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