(Valparaiso, IN) - A slice of heaven judging by the reaction of dogs and their owners has opened in Valparaiso. A dog park called “ValPAWraiso” at 2902 Campbell St. began welcoming members Thursday to the lush 3.6 acre site.
The entrance featuring an old fashioned brick archway leads to separate fenced in areas for dogs over and under 30 pounds. Each section has a shelter containing two picnic tables and a trash can along with stations containing dog waste baggies.
Also featured are fire hydrants not hooked to water for effect. “It’s amazing,” said Kate Hitchcock who came with her 14-year old daughter, Haley, and their Australian shepherd, “Poppy.” They roamed the grounds also featuring about 20 mature trees with Nathanael and Maddie Juliot and their mixed dog, “Ginny.” All of them are from apartment complexes in Valparaiso without yards for pets to stretch their legs. “Lots of space to run,” Mr. Juliot said.
The $380,000 cost of the dog park was paid for with public and private dollars, said John Seibert, director of the Valparaiso Parks and Recreation Department.
The dog park is open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. except on Tuesday when it’s closed for maintenance.
It’s available to members only. Memberships are $20 annually for residents and $35 for non-residents. The fees are used to help pay for keeping up the grounds. Lorraine Hattabaugh brought her four children, ages 8 to 13, along with their two dogs. They have plenty of outdoor space but like giving their pets a chance to be with other dogs, not just the goats, chickens and other farm animals on their property just outside Valparaiso.
The Hattabaugh’s have been driving to the dog park in Portage until now. “It’s really big. There’s lots of room to run around,” said her son, Shane. Dan McGuire, director of facilities at the park department, said a bathroom facility and paw washing station are among the new features planned for mid to late summer.
Also planned later are pieces of equipment like tunnels and poles for dogs to run through and jump over. McGuire said an official grand opening ceremony will also occur at some point once all of the landscaping has been finished and it’s considered safe again for large gatherings.
About 30 people used the park within five hours after the gates opened.
“It’s going smoothly,” McGuire said.