Sunday, July 18, 2004

Visitors (furry and not) sniff out Kenton County's new Paw Park

By Natalie Morales
Enquirer staff writer

Jill Timon of Price Hill (from right), Jeri Timon of Delhi Township and Amy Timon of Price Hill mingle with the crowd at the new Paw Park at Pioneer Park. By early afternoon Saturday, the 2-acre dog park's first day, about 150 dogs and their owners had visited. A grand opening will be Aug. 8.
INDEPENDENCE - Poodles and schnauzers. Labradors and golden retrievers.

Kenton County's new Paw Park opened Saturday with a strong showing from area dogs - and their owners.

By 2 p.m., about 150 people had brought their dogs to the park, said Tom Biedenharn, a Villa Hills resident who spent more than a year with the Friends of Kenton Paw Park Committee organizing the park's construction.

"It's a good way to bring people together that have something in common," he said.

The 2-acre, fenced-in park in Pioneer Park comprises a large area for all dogs, a smaller area for small or timid dogs and a small "time out" pen for dogs that "act out."

"Owners who are worried that their smaller dogs might get chased have the small dog area so their dogs can still interact," said Erin Tepe, a veterinarian and committee member. "And usually once dogs who are being too aggressive or grumpy are put in the time-out area a couple times, they will learn not to act out."

So far, building the park has involved about $60,000 in monetary and labor donations, Biedenharn said. The Kenton Fiscal Court is leasing the land to the committee for $1 a year.

Kenton's Paw Park is one of about 600 in the nation and the sixth in Greater Cincinnati.

The cost of Kenton's park will increase once it is equipped with a water source.

The committee wants to run a water line to the Paw Park from another area in Pioneer Park, so water fountains and drinking pools can be added.

There is no time frame for when the water will be available because the committee is still raising money for the project, said Tepe.

Beyond providing room for dogs to roam, the park gives owners a chance to socialize, Biedenharn said.

"Besides the social skills that your dogs get by interacting with other dogs, you get to meet people in your community," said Rebecca Mann, who came to the park with her husband, Greg, and their two dogs, Bill and Ted. "This gets people out from in front of their TVs and introduces them to something the community offers that is safe and at no cost."

In addition to social use, the local animal shelter will use the park. Biedenharn said the shelter will bring six dogs at a time to the park in hopes of helping them find homes.

Though the park is already open for public use, the committee plans a grand opening from 2-6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 8.


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