South Berwick has dogs and South Berwick has people who love their dogs but we don’t have a dog park. Linda Vaillancourt Andrews, a lifelong south Berwick resident and dog lover, didn’t even know such a thing as a dog park existed until she and her husband went on a work assignment to Washington state where they stayed in an apartment with their dogs. It was then that Linda discovered dog parks and realized how great they were for dogs and their companion people. Now she has made it her mission to bring a dog park to South Berwick.
Linda describes her vision of a dog park as a centrally located piece of land between 2 to 5 acres that would have some open field but also a tree line for shade and variable terrain to make it interesting. The area would be fenced in so dogs could be let off lead with no danger of them running off or getting into trouble. Linda sees the benefits as multiple. For dogs, it provides a place for safe vigorous exercise which results in better behavior and health. They also get to socialize with other dogs in a safe setting. For people it provides a safe place to exercise dogs and for getting to know other dog owners. She says dog parks can be especially helpful to those who live in apartments with no yard and for those who have difficulty walking, since a dog park means they can let their dog off lead for a good run without having to keep up with them.
Linda has done quite a bit of groundwork toward establishing a dog park in South Berwick. She is in the process of setting up an LLC, Dog Bone Central, to manage the dog park and has gotten Animal Welfare Society of Kennebunk to sponsor the project so that she can accept tax deductible donations. Linda has visited area dog parks to learn about their layout, the rules, and how they are funded and governed. She has been before the South Berwick Town Council to present the idea, where she received a favorable although cautious response, the Council expressed support for the idea but reluctance for the Town to take any responsibility for a dog park.
The idea has generated enthusiasm among townspeople, especially dog owners who would love such a resource. Linda says occasionally someone questions why a dog park is important when we have so many open areas available for walking. Linda describes the dangers inherent in walking an unleashed dog in open areas. She says even well behaved dogs can be attracted by animals and end up running off. Off lead exercise is important particularly for large dogs who can’t run full out on a leash.
Other dog parks have established rules for clean up and behavior that result in places that are safe and pleasing for both dogs and people. Dog parks can help keep dogs out of places like cemeteries and school yards, where dogs are not always welcome. One of Linda’s goals is to establish a Board of Directors to help with setting up the rules and governance and to help maintain the dog park. The Board will also need to raise money for fencing, materials and other costs for maintenance. Linda is now looking for volunteers who are interested in helping to make Dog Bone Central: South Berwick Dog Park a reality.
She lists her immediate needs:
- Land—She is looking for a piece of land for the dog park. In some towns the Town has allowed dog parks on town owned land, in others the land has been leased from the town or individuals. Some dog parks are on land that individuals have donated. Linda is interested in looking at any option and urges those with ideas or land to contact her.
- People for the Board of Directors and to volunteer. She needs help to bring the dog park to fruition and is looking for people interested in doing hands-on work of planning, finding land, and fundraising.
- Donations – Funds are needed for all aspects of the dog park. Through Dog Bone Central alliance with Animal Welfare Society, all donations are tax deductible.
Linda urges anyone interested in helping or who has any ideas about potential land for a dog park to contact her. She can be reached by phone at 207-332-4565 or email at email@example.com. She can also be found at the Marshwood Holiday Bazaar on December 4 where she will have a table for information, donations and with doggy treats for sale.