Saturday, February 28, 2004

They need stomps for romps

N. Kentucky owners trying to open 'paw park' close to home

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Carrie Eheman, of Covington, is surrounded by dogs as she arrives at a dog park in Mt. Airy Forest with her golden retrievers Hailey and Kenna. She is among a group working to establish a dog park in Pioneer Park, Covington.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/PATRICK REDDY

COVINGTON - Supporters hope to open one of Northern Kentucky's first "paw parks'' by summer after raising more than one-third of the money needed.

Before the park can open, the Friends of Kenton Paw Park have to raise $41,000 to cover its construction and four years of maintenance. In their first month of fund raising, they've collected or secured pledges for $14,850, said park organizer Tom Biedenharn.

"It's amazing how many people are interested," said Biedenharn, who shares his Villa Hills home with Tasha, a standard poodle.

The dog park, a fenced-in area where dogs can run without a leash and socialize with other pets, will be built in Pioneer Park on Ky. 17 in Covington. It will include shade trees, picnic tables, benches, a double-gated entrance and a separate area for small dogs.

Biedenharn said the park would be centrally located for the more than 60,000 dogs owned by Boone, Kenton and Campbell county residents.

"Most people that we've talked to have heard of paw parks," Biedenharn said. "But there are still some who don't understand the concept. The first guy I talked to thought I wanted to put in a racing track for greyhounds."

To educate novices, Friends of Kenton Paw Park has set up a Web site. Members also are passing out informational pamphlets and will meet with a local public-access provider Sunday to film a segment on the project.

The Kenton County project will join more than 600 dog parks nationwide, including two in Greater Cincinnati. West Chester Township opened its "Wiggly Field" dog park in the Voice of America Park on Oct. 1 and Cincinnati's Mount Airy Forest also features a popular dog park. In Northern Kentucky, Fort Thomas is opening a dog park in Highland Hills Park this spring.

Of the 23 cars at the Cincinnati paw park last Sunday, Biedenharn said he counted seven license plates from Northern Kentucky.

Regular visitor Carrie Eheman said she can't wait for Northern Kentucky's first dog park to open. Because of her small yard in Covington, Eheman said the only way her three dogs get exercise is through visits to a Northern Kentucky doggie day care, trips to friends' homes with big yards and visits to the Cincinnati paw park.

Eheman said she's even planned vacations around stops at paw parks in Maine, North Carolina and Florida.

"I think it would be great to have a paw park in Northern Kentucky," she said. "I've been to a lot of different cities in the county, and the more up-and-coming sections all seem to have paw parks."


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